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1.  Association of Medical Students' Reports of Interactions with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries and Medical School Policies and Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001743.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues compared US medical students' survey responses regarding pharmaceutical company interactions with the schools' AMSA PharmFree scorecard and Institute on Medicine as a Profession's (IMAP) scores.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Professional societies use metrics to evaluate medical schools' policies regarding interactions of students and faculty with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We compared these metrics and determined which US medical schools' industry interaction policies were associated with student behaviors.
Methods and Findings
Using survey responses from a national sample of 1,610 US medical students, we compared their reported industry interactions with their schools' American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and average Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database score. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to determine the association between policies and students' gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation. We adjusted for year in training, medical school size, and level of US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. We used LASSO regression models to identify specific policies associated with the outcomes. We found that IMAP and AMSA scores had similar median values (1.75 [interquartile range 1.50–2.00] versus 1.77 [1.50–2.18], adjusted to compare scores on the same scale). Scores on AMSA and IMAP shared policy dimensions were not closely correlated (gift policies, r = 0.28, 95% CI 0.11–0.44; marketing representative access policies, r = 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.63). Students from schools with the most stringent industry interaction policies were less likely to report receiving gifts (AMSA score, odds ratio [OR]: 0.37, 95% CI 0.19–0.72; IMAP score, OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.19–1.04) and less likely to interact with marketing representatives (AMSA score, OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15–0.69; IMAP score, OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14–0.95) than students from schools with the lowest ranked policy scores. The association became nonsignificant when fully adjusted for NIH funding level, whereas adjusting for year of education, size of school, and publicly versus privately funded school did not alter the association. Policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus were associated with students reporting having not received gifts and having not interacted with marketing representatives. Policy dimensions reflecting the regulation of industry involvement in educational activities (e.g., continuing medical education, travel compensation, and scholarships) were associated with perceived separation between faculty and industry. The study is limited by potential for recall bias and the cross-sectional nature of the survey, as school curricula and industry interaction policies may have changed since the time of the survey administration and study analysis.
As medical schools review policies regulating medical students' industry interactions, limitations on receipt of gifts and meals and participation of faculty in speaking bureaus should be emphasized, and policy makers should pay greater attention to less research-intensive institutions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling prescription drugs and medical devices is big business. To promote their products, pharmaceutical and medical device companies build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, by organizing educational meetings and sponsored events, and by giving gifts. Financial relationships begin early in physicians' careers, with companies providing textbooks and other gifts to first-year medical students. In medical school settings, manufacturers may help to inform trainees and physicians about developments in health care, but they also create the potential for harm to patients and health care systems. These interactions may, for example, reduce trainees' and trained physicians' skepticism about potentially misleading promotional claims and may encourage physicians to prescribe new medications, which are often more expensive than similar unbranded (generic) drugs and more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than older drugs. To address these and other concerns about the potential career-long effects of interactions between medical trainees and industry, many teaching hospitals and medical schools have introduced policies to limit such interactions. The development of these policies has been supported by expert professional groups and medical societies, some of which have created scales to evaluate the strength of the implemented industry interaction policies.
Why Was This Study Done?
The impact of policies designed to limit interactions between students and industry on student behavior is unclear, and it is not known which aspects of the policies are most predictive of student behavior. This information is needed to ensure that the policies are working and to identify ways to improve them. Here, the researchers investigate which medical school characteristics and which aspects of industry interaction policies are most predictive of students' reported behaviors and beliefs by comparing information collected in a national survey of US medical students with the strength of their schools' industry interaction policies measured on two scales—the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared information about reported gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and the perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation collected from 1,610 medical students at 121 US medical schools with AMSA and IMAP scores for the schools evaluated a year earlier. Students at schools with the highest ranked interaction policies based on the AMSA score were 63% less likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools. Students at the highest ranked schools based on the IMAP score were about half as likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools, although this finding was not statistically significant (it could be a chance finding). Similarly, students at the highest ranked schools were 70% less likely to interact with sales representatives as students at the lowest ranked schools. These associations became statistically nonsignificant after controlling for the amount of research funding each school received from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Policies limiting gifts, meals, and being a part of speaking bureaus (where companies pay speakers to present information about the drugs for dinners and other events) were associated with students' reports of receiving no gifts and of non-interaction with sales representatives. Finally, policies regulating industry involvement in educational activities were associated with the perceived separation between faculty and industry, which was regarded as adequate by most of the students at schools with such policies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that policies designed to limit industry interactions with medical students need to address multiple aspects of these interactions to achieve changes in the behavior and attitudes of trainees, but that policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus may be particularly important. These findings also suggest that the level of NIH funding plays an important role in students' self-reported behaviors and their perceptions of industry, possibly because institutions with greater NIH funding have the resources needed to implement effective policies. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by recall bias (students may have reported their experiences inaccurately), and by the possibility that industry interaction policies may have changed in the year that elapsed between policy grading and the student survey. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that limitations on gifts should be emphasized when academic medical centers refine their policies on interactions between medical students and industry and that particular attention should be paid to the design and implementation of policies that regulate industry interactions in institutions with lower levels of NIH funding.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice document, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Information about the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Just Medicine campaign (formerly the PharmFree campaign) and about the AMSA Scorecard is available
Information about the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and about its Conflicts of Interest Policy Database is also available
“Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide” is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that medical schools can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion
The US Institute of Medicine's report “Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice” recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The ALOSA Foundation provides evidence-based, non-industry-funded education about treating common conditions and using prescription drugs
PMCID: PMC4196737  PMID: 25314155
2.  An Ethnographic Study of the Social Context of Migrant Health in the United States 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e448.
Migrant workers in the United States have extremely poor health. This paper aims to identify ways in which the social context of migrant farm workers affects their health and health care.
Methods and Findings
This qualitative study employs participant observation and interviews on farms and in clinics throughout 15 months of migration with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico. Study participants include more than 130 farm workers and 30 clinicians. Data are analyzed utilizing grounded theory, accompanied by theories of structural violence, symbolic violence, and the clinical gaze. The study reveals that farm working and housing conditions are organized according to ethnicity and citizenship. This hierarchy determines health disparities, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Yet, each group is understood to deserve its place in the hierarchy, migrant farm workers often being blamed for their own sicknesses.
Structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers. Subtle racism serves to reduce awareness of this social context for all involved, including clinicians. The paper concludes with strategies toward improving migrant health in four areas: health disparities research, clinical interactions with migrant laborers, medical education, and policy making.
A qualitative study of migrant Triqui Mexicans in the western US and Mexico shows that structural racism and anti-immigrant practices lead to poor working and living conditions, and poor health.
Editors' Summary
For centuries, recent immigrants have experienced poorer living and working conditions than more established inhabitants, which in turn means that the health of immigrants is often worse. Immigrants often take on the very lowest-paid jobs. One might suppose that in more recent years the increasing prosperity of countries such as the United States and those of western Europe would have reversed this trend. But as recently as 2005 the New York–based Human Rights Watch published a report entitled “Blood, Sweat and Fear,” which documented appalling conditions for the mostly immigrant workers in the US meat and poultry industry. In the UK also, legislation has recently been introduced to try to regulate the activity of “gang masters” who control large groups of immigrant workers. This legislation was triggered by public horror about the deaths in 2004 of 21 immigrant cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. A group of workers at particular risk of poor conditions because of the seasonal and uncertain patterns of work are those who work as farm laborers.
Why Was This Study Done?
There are relatively few studies that have looked in detail at the pattern of health problems among migrant farm workers in the US. Understanding the working conditions of these workers would be of help in understanding more about their health problems and, in particular, how to prevent them. One problem is that few of these workers are seen in the usual health-care settings; few of them have health insurance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The paper's author spent 15 months with a group of indigenous Triqui Mexicans as they migrated around the western US and Mexico working on farms. He used a type of research called qualitative research, which involved observing and interviewing more than 130 farm workers and 30 health workers on farms and in clinics. He found that working and housing conditions were organized according to ethnicity and citizenship, and that there was an unofficial hierarchy, with undocumented indigenous Mexicans having the worst health. Even worse, migrant farm workers were often blamed for their sicknesses by those in charge of them or those from whom they sought help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The author concludes that “structural racism and anti-immigrant practices determine the poor working conditions, living conditions, and health of migrant workers.” Furthermore, it seems that “subtle” racism among all involved, including clinicians, reduces awareness and perhaps even allows tacit acceptance of these patterns of health. It seems that targets for specific health interventions for these workers will need to be closely integrated with a broader approach to improving migrant health including medical education and policymaking.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Migration Dialogue regularly consolidates news related to immigration around the world
Global Exchange has information related to fair trade, CAFTA, and other related current events
United Farm Workers has information related to working conditions of migrant laborers
PCUN has information related to migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest
The Border Action Network has information related to the US-Mexico border
Border Links provides education and experiential learning related to the US-Mexico Border
Tierra Nueva and the Peoples Seminary provide social services for migrant laborers in the Pacific Northwest and education related to the lives of migrant workers
The Pesticide Action Network of North America provides information related to pesticides and health
The Pesticide Education Center provides detailed lists of the contents of pesticides and their health effects
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies conducts research and education projects related to international migration
Human Rights Watch publishes and campaigns on many issues, including conditions for workers, such as that on the US meat-packing industry
European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations has a range of information concerning migrants
PMCID: PMC1621098  PMID: 17076567
3.  GIFtS: annotation landscape analysis with GeneCards 
BMC Bioinformatics  2009;10:348.
Gene annotation is a pivotal component in computational genomics, encompassing prediction of gene function, expression analysis, and sequence scrutiny. Hence, quantitative measures of the annotation landscape constitute a pertinent bioinformatics tool. GeneCards® is a gene-centric compendium of rich annotative information for over 50,000 human gene entries, building upon 68 data sources, including Gene Ontology (GO), pathways, interactions, phenotypes, publications and many more.
We present the GeneCards Inferred Functionality Score (GIFtS) which allows a quantitative assessment of a gene's annotation status, by exploiting the unique wealth and diversity of GeneCards information. The GIFtS tool, linked from the GeneCards home page, facilitates browsing the human genome by searching for the annotation level of a specified gene, retrieving a list of genes within a specified range of GIFtS value, obtaining random genes with a specific GIFtS value, and experimenting with the GIFtS weighting algorithm for a variety of annotation categories. The bimodal shape of the GIFtS distribution suggests a division of the human gene repertoire into two main groups: the high-GIFtS peak consists almost entirely of protein-coding genes; the low-GIFtS peak consists of genes from all of the categories. Cluster analysis of GIFtS annotation vectors provides the classification of gene groups by detailed positioning in the annotation arena. GIFtS also provide measures which enable the evaluation of the databases that serve as GeneCards sources. An inverse correlation is found (for GIFtS>25) between the number of genes annotated by each source, and the average GIFtS value of genes associated with that source. Three typical source prototypes are revealed by their GIFtS distribution: genome-wide sources, sources comprising mainly highly annotated genes, and sources comprising mainly poorly annotated genes. The degree of accumulated knowledge for a given gene measured by GIFtS was correlated (for GIFtS>30) with the number of publications for a gene, and with the seniority of this entry in the HGNC database.
GIFtS can be a valuable tool for computational procedures which analyze lists of large set of genes resulting from wet-lab or computational research. GIFtS may also assist the scientific community with identification of groups of uncharacterized genes for diverse applications, such as delineation of novel functions and charting unexplored areas of the human genome.
PMCID: PMC2774327  PMID: 19852797
4.  Use and trade of bitumen in antiquity and prehistory: molecular archaeology reveals secrets of past civilizations 
Natural asphalt (or bitumen) deposits, oil seepage and liquid oil shows are widespread in the Middle East, especially in the Zagros mountains of Iran. Ancient people from northern Iraq, south-west Iran and the Dead Sea area extensively used this ubiquitous natural resource until the Neolithic period (7000 to 6000 BC). Evidence of earlier use has been recently documented in the Syrian desert near El Kown, where bitumen-coated flint implements, dated to 40,000 BC (Mousterian period), have been unearthed. This discovery at least proves that bitumen was used by Neanderthal populations as hafting material to fix handles to their flint tools. Numerous testimonies, proving the importance of this petroleum-based material in Ancient civilizations, were brought to light by the excavations conducted in the Near East as of the beginning of the century. Bitumen remains show a wide range of uses that can be classified under several headings. First of all, bitumen was largely used in Mesopotamia and Elam as mortar in the construction of palaces (e.g. the Darius Palace in Susa), temples, ziggurats (e.g. the so-called 'Tower of Babel' in Babylon), terraces (e.g. the famous 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon') and exceptionally for roadway coating (e.g. the processional way of Babylon). Since the Neolithic, bitumen served to waterproof containers (baskets, earthenware jars, storage pits), wooden posts, palace grounds (e.g. in Mari and Haradum), reserves of lustral waters, bathrooms, palm roofs, etc. Mats, sarcophagi, coffins and jars, used for funeral practices, were often covered and sealed with bitumen. Reed and wood boats were also caulked with bitumen. Abundant lumps of bituminous mixtures used for that particular purpose have been found in storage rooms of houses at Ra's al-Junayz in Oman. Bitumen was also a widespread adhesive in antiquity and served to repair broken ceramics, fix eyes and horns on statues (e.g. at Tell al-Ubaid around 2500 BC). Beautiful decorations with stones, shells, mother of pearl, on palm trees, cups, ostrich eggs, musical instruments (e.g. the Queen's lyre) and other items, such as rings, jewellery and games, have been excavated from the Royal tombs in Ur. They are on view in the British Museum. With a special enigmatic material, commonly referred to as 'bitumen mastic', the inhabitants of Susa sculpted masterpieces of art which are today exhibited in the Louvre Museum in Paris. This unique collection is presented in a book by Connan and Deschesne (1996). Last, bitumen was also considered as a powerful remedy in medical practice, especially as a disinfectant and insecticide, and was used by the ancient Egyptians to prepare mixtures to embalm the corpses of their dead. Modern analytical techniques, currently applied in the field of petroleum geochemistry, have been adapted to the study of numerous archaeological bituminous mixtures found in excavations. More than 700 bituminous samples have been analysed during the last decade, using gas chromatography alone and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry and isotopic chemistry (carbon and hydrogen mainly). These powerful tools, focused on the detailed analysis of biomarkers in hydrocarbon fractions, were calibrated on various well-known natural sources of bitumen in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Bahrain and Kuwait. These reference studies have made it possible to establish the origins of bitumen from numerous archaeological sites and to document the bitumen trade routes in the Middle East and the Arabo-Persian Gulf. Using a well-documented case history, Tell el 'Oueili (5800 to 3500 BC) in South Mesopotamia, we will illustrate in this paper how these new molecular and isotopic tools can help us to recognize different sources of bitumen and to trace the ancient trade routes through time. These import routes were found to vary with major cultural and political changes in the area under study. A second example, referring to the prehistoric period, describes bitumen traces on flint implements, dated from Mousterian times. This discovery, from the Umm El Tlel excavations near El Kown in Syria, was reported in 1996 in Boëda et al. At that time, the origin of the bitumen had not been elucidated due to contamination problems. Last year, a ball of natural oil-stained sands, unearthed from the same archaeological layer, allowed us to determine the source of the bitumen used. This source is regional and located in the Jebel Bichri, nearly 40 km from the archaeological site. The last case history was selected to illustrate another aspect of the investigations carried out. Recent geochemical studies on more than 20 balms from Egyptian mummies from the Intermediate, Ptolemaic and Roman periods have revealed that these balms are composed of various mixtures of bitumen, conifer resins, grease and beeswax. Bitumen occurs with the other ingredients and the balms studied show a great variety of molecular compositions. Bitumen from the Dead Sea area is the most common source but some other sources (Hit in Iraq?) are also revealed by different molecular patterns. The absolute amount of bitumen in balms varies from almost zero to 30% per weight.
PMCID: PMC1692448
5.  Brain ‘imaging’ in the Renaissance 
During the Renaissance, a period of ‘rebirth’ for humanities and science, new knowledge and speculation began to emerge about the function of the human body, replacing ancient religious and philosophical dogma. The brain must have been a fascinating mystery to a Renaissance artist, but some speculation existed at that time on the function of its parts. Here we show how revived interest in anatomy and life sciences may have influenced the figurative work of Italian and Flemish masters, such as Rafael, Michelangelo and David. We present a historical perspective on the artists and the period in which they lived, their fascination for human anatomy and its symbolic use in their art.
Prior to the 16th century, knowledge of the brain was limited and influenced in a dogmatic way by the teachings of Galen1 who, as we now know, conducted his anatomical studies not on humans but on animals.2 Nemesus, Bishop of Emesa, in around the year 400 was one of the first to attribute mental faculties to the brain, specifically to the ventricles. He identified two anterior (lateral) ventricles, to which he assigned perception, a middle ventricle responsible for cognition and a posterior ventricle for memory.2,3 After a long period of stasis in the Middle Ages, Renaissance scholars realized the importance of making direct observations on dissected cadavers. Between 1504 and 1507, Leonardo da Vinci conducted experiments to reveal the anatomy of the ventricular system in the brain. He injected hot wax through a tube thrust into the ventricular cavities of an ox and then scraped the overlying brain off, thus obtaining, in a simple but ingenious way, an accurate cast of the ventricles.2,4 Leonardo shared the belief promoted by scholarly Christians that the ventricles were the abode of rational soul.
We have several examples of hidden symbolism in Renaissance paintings, but the influence of phrenology and this rudimentary knowledge of neuroanatomy on artists of that period is under-recognized. In the absence of documentary or scientific evidence as to the real intentions of these painters, the notion of such commixture of sacred and profane remains speculative and probably controversial, but at the same time fascinating and provocative. Here we present three examples of Renaissance masterpieces where such symbolism may have been used, although probably many more exist. Conducting an artistic, philosophical and anatomical analysis of the paintings can be an intriguing exercise, but the interpretation will inevitably be conjectural.
PMCID: PMC2121627  PMID: 18065703
6.  Mass Fatality Management following the South Asian Tsunami Disaster: Case Studies in Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e195.
Following natural disasters, mismanagement of the dead has consequences for the psychological well-being of survivors. However, no technical guidelines currently exist for managing mass fatalities following large natural disasters. Existing methods of mass fatality management are not directly transferable as they are designed for transport accidents and acts of terrorism. Furthermore, no information is currently available about post-disaster management of the dead following previous large natural disasters.
Methods and Findings
After the tsunami disaster on 26 December 2004, we conducted three descriptive case studies to systematically document how the dead were managed in Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. We considered the following parameters: body recovery and storage, identification, disposal of human remains, and health risks from dead bodies. We used participant observations as members of post-tsunami response teams, conducted semi-structured interviews with key informants, and collected information from published and unpublished documents.
Refrigeration for preserving human remains was not available soon enough after the disaster, necessitating the use of other methods such as dry ice or temporary burial. No country had sufficient forensic capacity to identify thousands of victims. Rapid decomposition made visual identification almost impossible after 24–48 h. In Thailand, most forensic identification was made using dental and fingerprint data. Few victims were identified from DNA. Lack of national or local mass fatality plans further limited the quality and timeliness of response, a problem which was exacerbated by the absence of practical field guidelines or an international agency providing technical support.
Emergency response should not add to the distress of affected communities by inappropriately disposing of the victims. The rights of survivors to see their dead treated with dignity and respect requires practical guidelines and technical support. Mass fatality management following natural disasters needs to be informed by further field research and supported by a network of regional and international forensic institutes and agencies.
Case studies were conducted to systematically document how the bodies of those killed in the tsunami were managed in Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. Many lessons can be learned, though more research is needed.
Editors' Summary
Some 226,408 people died in the tsunami that hit countries across South Asia on 26 December 2004. As well as providing assistance to the living, a crucially important part of the disaster relief effort was the recovery, identification, and disposal of the dead. However, there is very little consensus about the best way to handle and identify large numbers of bodies. Although natural disasters that kill many people occur frequently, most guidelines for the management of large numbers of dead bodies have come out of the experience gained from transport accidents and from terrorist incidents, and these guidelines are not directly relevant; for example, natural disasters often cause many more deaths than transport accidents or terrorist attacks. It is important for survivors that the bodies of the dead are handled with respect and that the dead are identified so that survivors know what has happened to missing relatives. However, at the same time many people are afraid of what the effect of many dead bodies might be on the living; one belief is that dead bodies are a source of disease. Such a belief can lead to the inappropriately rapid burial of bodies before identification has been done.
Why Was This Study Done?
The tsunami of 2004 provided an opportunity to study four different aspects of how the dead were handled in a number of different countries: how the bodies were recovered, how the bodies were identified, how the bodies were disposed of, and what, if any, were the health effects of the large number of bodies on survivors. The authors wanted to then use the results to make recommendations for use in future natural disasters.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors interviewed in person, in writing, and by E-mail key people involved in the handling of the dead in three of the countries affected by the tsunami: Thailand (where 8,345 people died), Indonesia (where 165,708 people died), and Sri Lanka (where 35,399 people died). The authors discovered that there were a huge number of people and agencies involved in the handling of the dead; for example, in Indonesia 42 different organizations were involved in recovering bodies.
None of the countries had sufficient refrigerated storage available to store bodies until they could be identified. Some effective alternatives were used, such as temporary burial in shallow graves—where the temperature is lower than in the ambient air—with the intention of exhuming the bodies later for identification. However, many bodies were hurriedly buried in mass graves because they were decomposing; these bodies were almost impossible to identify.
Methods and efficiency of identification varied between and within countries. One hospital in Sri Lanka excelled by systematically photographing all bodies brought in and recording sex, height, and personal effects: 87% of the bodies brought here were identified. But in most areas rates of identification were much lower. It seemed that simple methods of identification were the most useful: photographs taken quickly before the bodies started to decompose, dental records, and personal effects found on the bodies. DNA analysis was only useful for a small number of bodies.
When it came to disposal of the bodies, again procedures differed widely, and in some cases were dictated by religious needs—for example, in some Muslim communities all bodies were buried within 24 hours, making counting and identification of the dead very difficult. Mass graves were often used, but these caused problems; for example, haphazard arrangement of the bodies meant that later exhumation and identification would be impossible.
The authors concluded that there was virtually no health impact of the dead bodies on survivors. Other studies found that there were no epidemics among the surviving population, and that most effects were on those who handled bodies in temporary morgues, where there were the expected variety of sharp-implement injuries and mucosal splashes with body fluids, along with heat stress and dehydration due to overuse of personal protective equipment such as respirators.
What Do These Findings Mean?
How efficiently bodies were handled after the tsunami varied widely across and even within countries. The authors conclude that much of this variety was because of a lack of national or local plans for such mass fatalities, along with a lack of practical field guidelines. There was little coordination of all of the different organizations involved. However, in some places bodies were handled very well. The authors drew on their findings to suggest guidelines for the possible future management of large numbers of bodies, and also suggested that further research should be done. Reassuringly, the large numbers of bodies did not cause problems for the survivors, so in the future survivors should be encouraged to systematically identify the dead rather than rushing to bury them because of fear of disease.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• The World Heath Organization has a Web page that brings together much information on the tsunami and its aftermath
• News from the United Nations special envoy for the tsunami can be found on its Web site
• An article published by the Pan American Health Organization called “Disaster Myths That Just Won't Die”
• Field guidelines for managing mass fatality natural disasters developed by an international workshop following the tsunami
PMCID: PMC1472696  PMID: 16737348
7.  Calculation of Local Water Densities in Biological Systems — A Comparison of Molecular Dynamics Simulations and the 3D-RISM-KH Molecular Theory of Solvation 
Water plays a unique role in all living organisms. Not only is it nature’s ubiquitous solvent, but it also actively takes part in many cellular processes. In particular, the structure and properties of interfacial water near biomolecules like proteins are often related to the function of the respective molecule. It can therefore be highly instructive to study the local water density around solutes in cellular systems, particularly when solvent-mediated forces like the hydrophobic effect are relevant. Computational methods like molecular dynamics (MD) simulations seem well suited to study these systems at the atomic level. However, due to sampling requirements, it is not clear that MD simulations are indeed the method of choice to obtain converged densities at a given level of precision. We here compare the calculation of local water densities with two different methods, MD simulations and the three-dimensional reference interaction site model with the Kovalenko-Hirata closure (3D-RISM-KH). In particular, we investigate the convergence of the local water density to assess the required simulation times for different levels of resolution. Moreover, we provide a quantitative comparison of the densities calculated with MD and with 3D-RISM-KH, and investigate the effect of the choice of the water model for both methods. Our results show that 3D-RISM-KH yields density distributions that are very similar to those from MD up to a 0.5 Å resolution, but for significantly reduced computational cost. The combined use of MD and 3D-RISM-KH emerges as an auspicious perspective for efficient solvent sampling in dynamical systems.
PMCID: PMC3407544  PMID: 21174421
interfacial water; solvation; confined water; hydrophobic effect; MD; box size
8.  Fed-batch process for the psychrotolerant marine bacterium Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis 
Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis is a cold-adapted γ-proteobacterium isolated from Antarctic sea ice. It is characterized by remarkably high growth rates at low temperatures. P. haloplanktis is one of the model organisms of cold-adapted bacteria and has been suggested as an alternative host for the soluble overproduction of heterologous proteins which tend to form inclusion bodies in established expression hosts. Despite the progress in establishing P. haloplanktis as an alternative expression host the cell densities obtained with this organism, which is unable to use glucose as a carbon source, are still low. Here we present the first fed-batch cultivation strategy for this auspicious alternative expression host.
The key for the fed-batch cultivation of P. haloplanktis was the replacement of peptone by casamino acids, which have a much higher solubility and allow a better growth control. In contrast to the peptone medium, on which P. haloplanktis showed different growth phases, on a casamino acids-containing, phosphate-buffered medium P. haloplanktis grew exponentially with a constant growth rate until the stationary phase. A fed-batch process was established by feeding of casamino acids with a constant rate resulting in a cell dry weight of about 11 g l-1 (OD540 = 28) which is a twofold increase of the highest densities which have been obtained with P. haloplanktis so far and an eightfold increase of the density obtained in standard shake flask cultures.
The cell density was limited in the fed-batch cultivation by the relatively low solubility of casamino acids (about 100 g l-1), which was proven by pulse addition of casamino acid powder which increased the cell density to about 20 g l-1 (OD540 = 55).
The growth of P. haloplanktis to higher cell densities on complex medium is possible. A first fed-batch fermentation strategy could be established which is feasible to be used in lab-scale or for industrial purposes. The substrate concentration of the feeding solution was found to influence the maximal biomass yield considerably. The bottleneck for growing P. haloplanktis to high cell densities still remains the availability of a highly concentrated substrate and the reduction of the substrate complexity. However, our results indicate glutamic acid as a major carbon source, which provides a good basis for further improvement of the fed-batch process.
PMCID: PMC2954877  PMID: 20858251
9.  In vitro targeting of Polo-like kinase 1 in bladder carcinoma 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2013;14(7):648-657.
Despite the improvements in neoadjuvant chemotherapy, the outcome of patients with advanced bladder cancer has changed very little over the past 30 years. In the present study we tested and compared the in vitro antitumor activities of four different inhibitors of Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) (BI 2536, BI 6727, GW843682X, and GSK461364), against 3 bladder carcinoma cell lines RT4, 5637 and T24. The impact on radiosensitivity and drug interactions in simultaneous treatments with cisplatin, methotrexate, and doxorubicin were also investigated. Our results showed that PLK1 inhibition prevented cell proliferation and clonogenicity, causing significant inhibition of invasion of tumor cells, though modest differences were observed between drugs. Moreover, all PLK1 inhibitors induced G2/M arrest, with the subsequent induction of death in all 3 cell lines. Drug interactions studies showed auspicious results for all PLK1 inhibitors when combined with the commonly used cisplatin and methotrexate, though combinations with doxorubicin showed mostly antagonistic effects. Comparably, the four PLK1 inhibitors efficiently sensitized cells to ionizing radiation. Our findings demonstrate that irrespective of the inhibitor used, the pharmacological inhibition of PLK1 constrains bladder cancer growth and dissemination, providing new opportunities for future therapeutic intervention. However, further laboratorial and pre-clinical tests are still needed to corroborate the usefulness of using them in combination with other commonly used chemotherapeutic drugs.
PMCID: PMC3742494  PMID: 23792639
PLK1 inhibition, bladder cancer; cell lines
10.  Potential Capacity of Aptamers to Trigger Immune Activation in Human Blood 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68810.
Target specific short single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) molecules, called aptamers, are auspicious ligands for numerous in vivo applications. However, aptamers are synthetic molecules, which might be recognized by the immune cells in vivo and induce an activation of the innate immune system. Thus, immune activation potential of synthetic ssDNA oligonucleotides (ODNs) was determined using a well established closed-loop circulation model. Fresh human blood was incubated at 37°C for 2 or 4 hours with ssDNA ODNs (SB_ODN) or CpG ODN as positive control. Transcriptional changes were determined by microarray analyses. Blood samples containing SB_ODN demonstrated after 4 hours a significant regulation of 295 transcripts. Amongst others, CCL8, CXCL10, CCL7 and CXCL11 were highest regulated genes. Gene Ontology terms and KEGG pathway analyses exhibited that the differentially expressed genes belong to the transcripts that are regulated during an immune and inflammatory response, and were overrepresented in TLR signaling pathway. This study shows for the first time the potential of aptamers to activate immune system after systemic application into the human blood. Thus, we highly recommend performing of these preclinical tests with potential aptamer-based therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3720859  PMID: 23935890
11.  Gold(I)-Triphenylphosphine Complexes with Hypoxanthine-Derived Ligands: In Vitro Evaluations of Anticancer and Anti-Inflammatory Activities 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107373.
A series of gold(I) complexes involving triphenylphosphine (PPh3) and one N-donor ligand derived from deprotonated mono- or disubstituted hypoxanthine (HLn) of the general composition [Au(Ln)(PPh3)] (1–9) is reported. The complexes were thoroughly characterized, including multinuclear high resolution NMR spectroscopy as well as single crystal X-ray analysis (for complexes 1 and 3). The complexes were screened for their in vitro cytotoxicity against human cancer cell lines MCF7 (breast carcinoma), HOS (osteosarcoma) and THP-1 (monocytic leukaemia), which identified the complexes 4–6 as the most promising representatives, who antiproliferative activity was further tested against A549 (lung adenocarcinoma), G-361 (melanoma), HeLa (cervical cancer), A2780 (ovarian carcinoma), A2780R (ovarian carcinoma resistant to cisplatin), 22Rv1 (prostate cancer) cell lines. Complexes 4–6 showed a significantly higher in vitro anticancer effect against the employed cancer cells, except for G-361, as compared with the commercially used anticancer drug cisplatin, with IC50 ≈ 1–30 µM. Anti-inflammatory activity was evaluated in vitro by the assessment of the ability of the complexes to modulate secretion of the pro-inflammatory cytokines, i.e. tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β), in the lipopolysaccharide-activated macrophage-like THP-1 cell model. The results of this study identified the complexes as auspicious anti-inflammatory agents with similar or better activity as compared with the clinically applied gold-based antiarthritic drug Auranofin. In an effort to explore the possible mechanisms responsible for the biological effect, the products of interactions of selected complexes with sulfur-containing biomolecules (L-cysteine and reduced glutathione) were studied by means of the mass-spectrometry study.
PMCID: PMC4167326  PMID: 25226034
12.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
13.  eGIFT: Mining Gene Information from the Literature 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:418.
With the biomedical literature continually expanding, searching PubMed for information about specific genes becomes increasingly difficult. Not only can thousands of results be returned, but gene name ambiguity leads to many irrelevant hits. As a result, it is difficult for life scientists and gene curators to rapidly get an overall picture about a specific gene from documents that mention its names and synonyms.
In this paper, we present eGIFT (, a web-based tool that associates informative terms, called iTerms, and sentences containing them, with genes. To associate iTerms with a gene, eGIFT ranks iTerms about the gene, based on a score which compares the frequency of occurrence of a term in the gene's literature to its frequency of occurrence in documents about genes in general. To retrieve a gene's documents (Medline abstracts), eGIFT considers all gene names, aliases, and synonyms. Since many of the gene names can be ambiguous, eGIFT applies a disambiguation step to remove matches that do not correspond to this gene. Another additional filtering process is applied to retain those abstracts that focus on the gene rather than mention it in passing. eGIFT's information for a gene is pre-computed and users of eGIFT can search for genes by using a name or an EntrezGene identifier. iTerms are grouped into different categories to facilitate a quick inspection. eGIFT also links an iTerm to sentences mentioning the term to allow users to see the relation between the iTerm and the gene. We evaluated the precision and recall of eGIFT's iTerms for 40 genes; between 88% and 94% of the iTerms were marked as salient by our evaluators, and 94% of the UniProtKB keywords for these genes were also identified by eGIFT as iTerms.
Our evaluations suggest that iTerms capture highly-relevant aspects of genes. Furthermore, by showing sentences containing these terms, eGIFT can provide a quick description of a specific gene. eGIFT helps not only life scientists survey results of high-throughput experiments, but also annotators to find articles describing gene aspects and functions.
PMCID: PMC2929241  PMID: 20696046
The work reported in the preceding sections justifies, we think, a number of definite conclusions. In addition to this, some of the experiments indicate a line of thought which may lead to considerable alteration in our conceptions, both of phenomena of bacterial hypersensitiveness and of infection. 1. In guinea pigs two fundamentally different types of intradermal reactions may be observed. One of these is the immediate, transitory reaction which develops in animals sensitized against proteins (horse serum, etc.) and may be regarded as one of the manifestations of general protein hypersensitiveness, or anaphylaxis; the other is the tuberculin type of skin reaction which develops more slowly, leads to a more profound injury of the tissues and is independent of anaphylaxis as ordinarily conceived. 2. The tuberculin type of hypersensitiveness (as well as probably the typhoidin, mallein, abortin reactions, etc.) does not develop at all in guinea pigs sensitized with proteins, like horse serum, etc. While this form of hypersensitiveness may eventually be induced with materials not bacterial in origin, it has been observed up to date only as a reaction of bacterial infection. 3. Methods of treatment with protein material from bacterial cultures which sensitize guinea pigs to anaphylactic reactions with the bacterial extracts, do not sensitize them to the tuberculin type of reaction. Such sensitization is easily accomplished only by infecting the animals with living organisms. No reliable method of sensitizing guinea pigs to such reactions with dead bacterial material has as yet been worked out, though a few hopeful experiments have been obtained with massive injections of large amounts of the acid-precipitable substances (nucleoproteins?) from bacterial extracts. 4. In animals made hypersensitive to the tuberculin type of reaction by infection with living bacteria, the reaction may be elicited by intradermal injections of bacterial extracts from which all coagulable proteins, nucleoproteins, and Bence-Jones proteins have been removed, as well as this can be done by boiling with acid, etc. This proteose residue alone suffices to elicit such reactions. The exact chemical nature of the so called proteose residue must be further studied and analyzed when we have had opportunity to produce bacterial extracts in large quantity. These points seem incontrovertible on the basis of our own experiments, as well as those of other workers. There thus seem to develop two definite forms of hypersensitiveness in guinea pigs infected with bacteria, typical anaphylaxis in which the protein material of the bacterial cells is concerned, which develops late and which can be induced by repeated injections of dead bacterial material, and a hypersensitiveness to non-protein constituents which differs from the former, both in the laws that govern sensitization and in the manifestations which follow injections into the sensitized animals. While there is virtual agreement among immunologists concerning the essential mechanism of protein anaphylaxis, its dependence upon an antigen-antibody reaction, and the dominating rôle played by the sessile antibodies, the mechanism of hypersensitiveness to tuberculin and similar bacterial substances is still a problem of much uncertainty. The most striking difference between the two phenomena lies, as we have seen, in the criteria of sensitization, in that hypersensitiveness to the tuberculin type of reaction can hardly ever be induced by any of the ordinary methods of preparation with the constituents of dead bacteria, but develops promptly (7 to 10 days) in the course of actual infection with living organisms. The considerable specificity of such reactions forces the conclusion that the sensitizing substance must, in some way, be derived from the infecting microorganisms. The idea that the failure of sensitization with dead culture materials is perhaps due to the elaboration in the body of infected animals of bacterial products not represented in extracts of test-tube cultures is rendered unlikely by the fact that in the tuberculin-sensitive, infected animals, we can produce the reactions by the application of such dead extracts. It is neither logical nor in keeping with biological experience to assume that one substance will sensitize to reaction with another. This mistake was made early in the study of anaphylaxis in another connection and caused considerable delay of progress. Krause has shown that tuberculin sensitiveness may be blunted in infected animals by massive, but sublethal injections of tuberculin, and we have obtained some indications of the same thing. Moreover, others as well as ourselves have seen tuberculin reactivity decline in guinea pigs and in man in the stages of very severe infection. These facts would eliminate any assumption of mere cumulative injury as explaining this type of reaction, and stamp it as a mechanism at least analogous to ordinary anaphylaxis. The only remaining possibility to explain the difference between infected animals and those treated with dead bacterial constituents would be to assume that the difference must lie in the manner in which the sensitizing substance is administered to the animals, and that sensitization with the proteose residue materials depends upon criteria of sensitization differing in regard to the time and quantity factors from those governing protein sensitization. If one considers the relatively simpler chemical structure and perhaps physically greater diffusibility of the materials concerned in this reaction, one might readily expect such differences in the methods needed for sensitization. In keeping with such a line of reasoning our experiments have shown that the tuberculin active materials are constantly and rapidly being diffused out into the culture fluid from growing organisms, in quantities greater than can be extracted from similar amounts of the dead bacteria. It seems reasonable to assume from this that the same thing may happen in the animal body harboring a growing focus. And it would seem quite likely that the association of the tuberculin type of reaction with actual infection may depend upon the fact that sensitization to these non-protein substances depends upon a constant steady absorption of large amounts of the material. Moreover, the only hopeful experiments on the artificial production of tuberculin sensitiveness in guinea pigs obtained by us were those in which massive doses of the nucleoprotein material injected into guinea pigs gave rise to a moderate skin sensitiveness. Does the so called proteose residue form antibodies, and, if so, are substances analogous to antibodies involved in the tuberculin type of hypersensitiveness? The failure to transfer passively this form of hypersensitiveness to normal animals with the blood and tissues of tuberculin-sensitive ones would suggest that no antibodies are involved. But this is not conclusive on the basis of available experimental facts. We are inclined to believe that antibodies of a sort are involved, for the following reasons: (a) In our experiments with the uteri of highly sensitive extract-treated guinea pigs and of tuberculous guinea pigs, we have occasionally had positive reactions when the proteose residue alone was used. (b) We believe that these proteose substances are entirely analogous to the substances studied by Avery and Dochez (22) in the urine and blood of typhoid and pneumonia patients. They obtained precipitin reactions against homologous immune sera with the urine of infected cases concentrated by evaporation after boiling with acetic acid to remove coagulable proteins. (c) Petroff, with whom we discussed this proteose residue early in our work, has produced it, and tells us that he has obtained precipitin reactions with it by titrating it against the serum of a sheep treated for a long time with tubercle bacillus products. In suggesting an antibody response to a non-protein antigen we are aware that we are opposing what has been regarded as a well established doctrine in immunity; this is justified, or at least mitigated, we believe, by the consideration that reactions of the antigen-antibody type are the only explanation of specificity; and tuberculin, mallein, and typhoidin reactions are to a considerable degree specific. If such reaction bodies cannot be produced by precisely the same methods of administration as to time and quantity which are successful in calling forth protein antibodies, this should not astonish us, since, after all, the substances that we are dealing with are simpler in chemical structure than are the proteins, and physically are probably of relatively greater diffusibility. It may be that the greater diffusibility of the proteose-like substances transfers much of the actual reaction phenomena to an intracellular location, and that this to some extent influences the presence of circulating antibodies. It may also be that these more diffusible non-protein antigens are more rapidly eliminated from the animal body than are the proteins. Indeed, the above mentioned observations of Avery and Dochez, and the recent work of Wildbolz (23), Lanz (24), Imhof (25), and Gibson and Carroll (26), who demonstrated tuberculin active antigens in the urine of active cases, would corroborate such a view. The evidence available at the present time, however, concerning antibody formation to these non-protein substances is, we recognize, largely indirect, at least as far as our own work is concerned, and we present it in the present connection purely as a working hypothesis. Finally, perhaps the most important theoretical consideration indicated by our experiments is the following. We have in the tuberculin reaction a form of hypersensitiveness which seems to be (in guinea pigs, at least) analogous entirely to the typhoidin reaction, the mallein reaction, and the abortin reaction. Whenever reactions of this type have been carefully studied, whatever the bacteria involved, they have been associated with infection as in tuberculosis, and have been followed by analogous clinical manifestations. It would seem perhaps that we are dealing with a law applicable to bacterial infection in general. It would appear that certain non-coagulable substances of uncertain chemical constitution are being constantly elaborated in the course of bacterial growth, and passed into the circulation of infected animals. As a result of this, infected animals become sensitized to these heat-and acid-resistant materials, in tuberculosis in the course of I to 2 weeks, in the case of more rapidly growing bacteria perhaps sooner. Early in the course of infection, the animal becomes sensitized and subsequently the further elaboration and distribution of these materials from the bacterial focus plays a fundamental part in the injury of the animal. These proteose-like substances, like tuberculin, possessing but slight toxicity for the normal animal, become highly toxic to the sensitized one. Thus, these substances, while not being true exotoxins in the ordinary sense, would still represent a highly toxic bacterial product comparable in its injurious effect to toxins when produced in the body of an animal thus sensitized. If there is any value in these deductions the attention of bacteriologists should be turned to the non-protein constituents of bacterial cells in their further immunological studies, as well as to the protein materials. It is obvious that the next step in our investigations must consist in producing the non-coagulable material from bacterial extracts in considerable quantity, to determine their antibody-forming properties in detail, and elucidate, if possible, the laws which govern sensitization with them. This work has been begun, but it has seemed advisable to publish this as far as we have gone because it will take a long time before it can be completed.
PMCID: PMC2128693  PMID: 19868574
15.  Towards Universal Coverage: Examining Costs of Illness, Payment, and Coping Strategies to Different Population Groups in Southeast Nigeria 
This study investigated the costs of illness to households in different socio-economic status (SES) groups and geographic places of abode in addition to the mechanisms that the different population groups used to pay for health services and cope with payments. A cross-sectional descriptive study of 3,200 households selected from six communities in two states was conducted using interviewer-administered pre-tested questionnaires. An SES index was used to divide the households into quartiles, and χ2 analysis was used to determine the relationship of SES and geographic abode of households with cost of illness, payment mechanism, and coping strategies. The results show that malaria was the illness that most people had. The average cost of transportation for malaria was 86 Naira ($0.6 US), and the total cost of treatment was 2,819.9 Naira ($20 US); of this cost, drug costs alone contributed more than 90%. Out of pocket was the main method of payment. Treatment costs differed by geographic location and socio-economic status. Policy measures should establish targeted mechanisms to protect the general population, especially rural dwellers and poorer households, against the financial burden of direct healthcare payments.
PMCID: PMC3247109  PMID: 22232451
16.  Aqueous Ethanolic Extract of Tinospora cordifolia as a Potential Candidate for Differentiation Based Therapy of Glioblastomas  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78764.
Glioblastomas are the most aggressive primary brain tumors and their heterogeneity and complexity often renders them non responsive to various conventional treatments. Search for herbal products having potential anti-cancer activity is an active area of research in the Indian traditional system of medicine i.e., Ayurveda. Tinospora cordifolia, also named as ‘heavenly elixir’ is used in various ayurvedic decoctions as panacea to treat several body ailments. The current study investigated the anti-brain cancer potential of 50% ethanolic extract of Tinospora cordifolia (TCE) using C6 glioma cells. TCE significantly reduced cell proliferation in dose-dependent manner and induced differentiation in C6 glioma cells, resulting in astrocyte-like morphology as indicated by phase contrast images, GFAP expression and process outgrowth data of TCE treated cells which exhibited higher number and longer processes than untreated cells. Reduced proliferation of cells was accompanied by enhanced expression of senescence marker, mortalin and its translocation from perinuclear to pancytoplasmic spaces. Further, TCE showed anti-migratory and anti-invasive potential as depicted by wound scratch assay and reduced expression of plasticity markers NCAM and PSA-NCAM along with MMP-2 and 9. On analysis of the cell cycle and apoptotic markers, TCE treatment was seen to arrest the C6 cells in G0/G1 and G2/M phase, suppressing expression of G1/S phase specific protein cyclin D1 and anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL, thus supporting its anti-proliferative and apoptosis inducing potential. Present study provides the first evidence for the presence of anti-proliferative, differentiation-inducing and anti-migratory/anti-metastatic potential of TCE in glioma cells and possible signaling pathways involved in its mode of action. Our primary data suggests that TCE and its active components may prove to be promising phytotherapeutic interventions in gliobalstoma multiformae. 
PMCID: PMC3811968  PMID: 24205314
17.  Patient Retention in Antiretroviral Therapy Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(10):e298.
Long-term retention of patients in Africa's rapidly expanding antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs for HIV/AIDS is essential for these programs' success but has received relatively little attention. In this paper we present a systematic review of patient retention in ART programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods and Findings
We searched Medline, other literature databases, conference abstracts, publications archives, and the “gray literature” (project reports available online) between 2000 and 2007 for reports on the proportion of adult patients retained (i.e., remaining in care and on ART) after 6 mo or longer in sub-Saharan African, non-research ART programs, with and without donor support. Estimated retention rates at 6, 12, and 24 mo were calculated and plotted for each program. Retention was also estimated using Kaplan-Meier curves. In sensitivity analyses we considered best-case, worst-case, and midpoint scenarios for retention at 2 y; the best-case scenario assumed no further attrition beyond that reported, while the worst-case scenario assumed that attrition would continue in a linear fashion. We reviewed 32 publications reporting on 33 patient cohorts (74,192 patients, 13 countries). For all studies, the weighted average follow-up period reported was 9.9 mo, after which 77.5% of patients were retained. Loss to follow-up and death accounted for 56% and 40% of attrition, respectively. Weighted mean retention rates as reported were 79.1%, 75.0% and 61.6 % at 6, 12, and 24 mo, respectively. Of those reporting 24 mo of follow-up, the best program retained 85% of patients and the worst retained 46%. Attrition was higher in studies with shorter reporting periods, leading to monthly weighted mean attrition rates of 3.3%/mo, 1.9%/mo, and 1.6%/month for studies reporting to 6, 12, and 24 months, respectively, and suggesting that overall patient retention may be overestimated in the published reports. In sensitivity analyses, estimated retention rates ranged from 24% in the worse case to 77% in the best case at the end of 2 y, with a plausible midpoint scenario of 50%.
Since the inception of large-scale ART access early in this decade, ART programs in Africa have retained about 60% of their patients at the end of 2 y. Loss to follow-up is the major cause of attrition, followed by death. Better patient tracing procedures, better understanding of loss to follow-up, and earlier initiation of ART to reduce mortality are needed if retention is to be improved. Retention varies widely across programs, and programs that have achieved higher retention rates can serve as models for future improvements.
Almost half of people entering African HIV treatment programs were lost to follow-up or died within two years, according to this systematic review by Sydney Rosen and colleagues.
Editors' Summary
About 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Every year, about three million more people become infected with HIV and 2 million die from AIDS in this region, where the pandemic has reduced life expectancy, orphaned many children, and reversed economic growth. Since 1996, HIV-positive people living in wealthier parts of the world have had access to cocktails of antiretroviral drugs that hold HIV in check and allow them to live relatively normal, healthy lives. But these drugs are expensive and it is only in the past five years that antiretroviral therapy (ART) programs have been initiated in sub-Saharan Africa, often with international support.
Why Was This Study Done?
For ART to work, HIV-infected individuals whose immune systems have been damaged by the virus have to take antiretroviral drugs regularly for the rest of their lives. If people take ART irregularly or stop taking their medications they may become sicker or die, or the viruses they carry may become resistant to antiretroviral drugs. Several studies have looked at how well patients on ART stick to their day-to-day medication schedules, but how long patients stay in treatment programs, which they must do to prevent illness and death from AIDS, has received little attention. In this study the researchers reviewed reports of whether patients stay in treatment in ART programs in sub-Saharan Africa, and also looked at the reasons why they drop out.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 scientific reports published or presented at meetings between 2000 and 2007 that gave details of the proportion of adult patients retained (alive and receiving ART) in ART treatment programs (not including research studies) in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The average follow-up time of the programs (adjusted for number of patients in each) was 9.9 months. At this time, 77.5% of the patients were retained on average. Of the patients not retained, just under half had died and half had been lost to follow up. That is, they had missed clinic visits or had not picked up their medication. Estimated average retention rates at 6, 12, and 24 months were 79.08%, 75% and 61.6%, respectively; retention rates reported at 24 months ranged between 46% and 85% of patients. Finally, using sensitivity analysis (a technique that can estimate best- and worst-case possibilities), the researchers estimated that actual retention in ART programs after 2 years probably lies between one-quarter and three-quarters of patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results show that roughly half of people starting HIV treatment programs in Africa are no longer receiving treatment after two years. The overall success rates of African treatment programs may actually be even lower, if one takes into account that programs with very low retention may be unlikely to publish their results. This study therefore indicates that a worrying number of patients in sub-Saharan Africa who need ART are lost from treatment programs. Because many of these patients are lost because they die from AIDS, one way to improve retention might be to start treating people with ART earlier, before they become seriously ill from HIV. Better efforts to find out exactly why patients drop out of programs (for example, the cost of drugs and/or of transport to clinics) might reduce the number of patients lost to follow up. The researchers also suggest that ART programs with very high retention rates might serve as models to improve retention rates in other programs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite is a regional page on sub-Saharan Africa from the University of California, San Francisco
Information is provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in various countries and regions
Avert is an international AIDS charity that provides information on HIV and AIDS in Africa
Aidsmap is an international AIDS organization that summarizes research about HIV/AIDS and reports news (in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Russian)
PMCID: PMC2020494  PMID: 17941716
18.  Sperm storage mediated by cryptic female choice for nuptial gifts 
Polyandrous females are expected to discriminate among males through postcopulatory cryptic mate choice. Yet, there is surprisingly little unequivocal evidence for female-mediated cryptic sperm choice. In species in which nuptial gifts facilitate mating, females may gain indirect benefits through preferential storage of sperm from gift-giving males if the gift signals male quality. We tested this hypothesis in the spider Pisaura mirabilis by quantifying the number of sperm stored in response to copulation with males with or without a nuptial gift, while experimentally controlling copulation duration. We further assessed the effect of gift presence and copulation duration on egg-hatching success in matings with uninterrupted copulations with gift-giving males. We show that females mated to gift-giving males stored more sperm and experienced 17% higher egg-hatching success, compared with those mated to no-gift males, despite matched copulation durations. Uninterrupted copulations resulted in both increased sperm storage and egg-hatching success. Our study confirms the prediction that the nuptial gift as a male signal is under positive sexual selection by females through cryptic sperm storage. In addition, the gift facilitates longer copulations and increased sperm transfer providing two different types of advantage to gift-giving in males.
PMCID: PMC3813325  PMID: 24266042
sexual selection; postcopulatory choice; Pisaura mirabilis; sperm storage; sperm count
19.  A Perspective on Forage Production in Canada 
Over the past decade, the cattle industry has experienced practically a full circle. With the promising beef prices in the early 1970s, with the glut of grain and a generous assist from government incentive programs, the forage acreage and cattle population have increased at a record rate. By 1974, the tide began to turn — grain prices went up sharply and beef prices became sluggish — and by 1976 a major crisis faced the producers. The cattle industry which had been developing on a cheap grain economy was now obliged to rely more on forage for its survival. Unfortunately, the forage was not existent and the only salvation of the industry was the gift of Providence — weather patterns that provided ample moisture conditions and above normal forage crops, the utilization of cereals and the intervention of government cow-calf support programs.
Over the past year, the cycle was completed and record beef prices again prevail. The barley bins are full again and the cattlemen are gearing up for a few fat years. Demands for forage seed are brisk and the seeding down of forage acreage is bound to increase substantially over the next few years. And with this increase, cattle population expansion is bound to follow: how much expansion can the economy support? The production cost factors will determine the extent, but one can almost be certain that any expansion will either be modest or of short duration. At least, it should be.
If the cattle industry is to establish solid foundations, it cannot be dependent upon the instability of a grain surplus-shortage position. With the present resources and the potential for developing it in direct competition with other crops, one can only expect a small and steady expansion over a long time span. One must agree with the range researchers and specialists of the Canada Research Stations at Lethbridge and Swift Current that pasture and range will continue to be the limiting factors of cattle expansion as they have been for the past 50 years. It is interesting to note that in the Prairie Provinces at least, the number of livestock raised each year has not changed since 1930 although cattle have largely replaced the horses.
It is easy to speculate on paper that Canada can double in the next 20 years its forage and cattle production on its large expanses of land on the fringes of the agriculturally settled areas. It is true that these lands, while marginal for cash crops, could produce excellent forage. But at what cost? And what kind of pasture could we grow on them?
It is easy to speculate that our livestock geneticists can breed a ruminant-type animal that will feed on poplar saplings and poplar leaves, or develop a new breed of cattle with buffalo vigor that will thrive in the extreme north. But looking at the musk-ox experience in the Northwest Territories and the history of the Wood Buffalo National Park leaves little room for optimism.
The present generation is not likely to see in its lifetime the cattle population go beyond the 20 million mark. We can look, however, with good assurance on the present cattle numbers remaining stable and can look forward to gradual increase brought about by normal improvement in both forage and cattle management.
Hopefully, both the cattle producer and the veterinarian will be able to reap the benefits of this most important segment of Canada's agricultural industry.
PMCID: PMC1789688  PMID: 7363269
20.  Challenges of Internet Recruitment: A Case Study with Disappointing Results 
The Internet provides tremendous opportunities for innovative research, but few publications on the use of the Internet for recruiting study participants exist. This paper summarizes our experiences from 2 studies in which we attempted to recruit teenagers on the Internet for a questionnaire study to evaluate a smoking-cessation website.
To evaluate strategies of recruiting teenagers for the evaluation of a smoking-cessation website through the Internet.
In Study 1 (Defined Community Recruitment), we sent invitation emails to registered members of a youth health website, CyberIsle. A total of 3801 email addresses were randomly divided into 2 groups. In the first group, emails indicated that the first 30 respondents would receive a Can $20 electronic gift certificate for use at an online bookstore if they would go to the Smoking Zine website and respond to a short survey. For the second group, the email also indicated that respondents would receive an additional Can $10 gift certificate if they referred their friends to the study. Reminder emails were sent 10 days after the sending of the initial invitation email. In Study 2 (Open Recruitment), we posted invitation messages on Web discussion boards, Usenet forums, and one specialized recruitment website, and attempted a snowball recruiting strategy. When potential participants arrived at the study site, they were automatically randomized into either the higher incentives group (Can $15 electronic gift certificate) or lower incentive group (Can $5 gift certificate).
In Study 1 (defined community recruitment), 2109 emails were successfully delivered. Only 5 subjects (0.24%), including 1 referred by a friend, passed the recruitment process and completed the questionnaire; a further 6 individuals visited the information page of the study but did not complete the study. In Study 2 (open recruitment), the number of users seeing the advertisement is unknown. A total of 35 users arrived at the website, of whom 14 participants were recruited (8 from the Can $15 gift certificate group and 6 from the Can $5 gift certificate group). Another 5 were recruited from the general Internet community (3 from discussion boards and 2 from the Research Volunteers website). The remaining 9 participants were recruited through friend referrals with the snowball strategy.
Overall, the recruitment rate was disappointingly low. In our case, recruitment using Internet technologies including email, electronic discussion boards, Usenet forums, and websites did not prove to be an effective approach for soliciting young subjects to participate in our research. Possible reasons are discussed, including the participants' perspective. A major challenge is to differentiate trustable and legitimate messages from spam and fraudulent misinformation on the Internet. From the researchers' perspective, approaches are needed to engage larger samples, to verify participants' attributes, and to evaluate and adjust for potential biases associated with Internet recruitment.
PMCID: PMC1550633  PMID: 15829478
Internet; data collection; World Wide Web; research subjects
21.  Moving as a Gift: Relocation in Older Adulthood 
While discussions of accessibility, mobility and activities of daily living frame relocation studies, in older adulthood, the paper explores the emotional motivation of gift giving as a rationale for moving. This ethnographic study investigates the processes of household disbandment and decision-making of older adults in the Midwestern United States relocating in post-Global Financial Crisis contexts. In this study, relationships are created and sustained through the process of moving, linking older adults (n=81), their kin (n=49), and professionals (n=46) in the Midwestern United States.
Using Marcel Mauss’ The Gift (1925/1990) as a theoretical lens, relocation in older adulthood is conceptualized as a gift in two ways: to one’s partner, and one’s kin. Partners may consider gift-giving in terms of the act of moving to appease and honor their partner. Kin who were not moving themselves were also recipients of the gift of moving. These gifts enchain others in relationships of reciprocity. However these gifts, like all gifts, are not without costs or danger, so this paper examines some of the challenges that emerge along with gift-giving.
PMCID: PMC4254923  PMID: 25456616
Relocation; qualitative; intergenerational exchange; transition; housing; gift; anthropology; aging
Before proceeding to a discussion of the experiments upon cold-blooded animals, it is necessary to review briefly some of the work recently done with the bacillus of leprosy. The appearance of the bacillus in man and its behavior under artificial cultivation, and in the tissues of lower animals, should be considered in order that comparisons may be drawn. In their studies with the organism under cultivation, Duval and Gurd pointed out that the long, slender, and beaded appearance of the leprosy bacillus described by Hansen, in 1872, is lost when removed for several generations from the parent stem, and under artificial cultivation the organism becomes unbeaded, short, and coccoid. Duval also noted that these changes in morphology were always followed by rapid multiplication of the organism. Duval argues, a priori, that the bacillus is not in a favorable environment in the human tissues. If these deductions are correct, the morphology of the leprosy bacillus should vary according to the resistance offered by the tissues of different animals. The resistance of the human host to the leprosy bacillus becomes more evident in the light of the clinical aspect of the disease. The long period of incubation, the duration of the disease, and the disappearance of the bacilli preceding the healing of the infected foci show that the resistance offered to the bacillus by the human tissues is not to be overestimated. This opinion is confirmed when the behavior of the leprosy bacillus under cultivation and in the tissues of various mammals is compared. When cats, rabbits, bats, guinea pigs, and rats are inoculated either below the skin or into the peritoneal cavity with large quantities of Bacillus lepræ, a slight local reaction follows within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, but no definite lesions are produced and the bacilli soon disappear. The resistance of some animals to Bacillus lepræ is well illustrated by two cats which were inoculated subcutaneously and intraperitoneally with a heavy suspension of Bacillus lepræ. These animals were killed and examined three days later, but the bacilli were not demonstrable from the regions about the sites of inoculation. Pigeons are likewise refractory. It is impossible to cause a local reaction in these birds, and the injected bacilli disappear rapidly. Hence, probably no multiplication takes place in them. Goats, young pigs, and white and dancing mice are in a degree susceptible to injections, and though undoubted lesions are produced, and multiplication of the bacilli occurs, the lesions and bacilli disappear after a limited time. Acid-fast bacilli which are recovered from the lesions are long, slim, and beaded, though the organisms used in the inoculations were short, unbeaded, and coccoid. Monkeys inoculated with cultures of the short unbeaded forms react promptly. The lesions resulting, though confined in most instances to the site of inoculation, occasionally appear at distant points. The number of bacilli present in the nodules and their arrangement within typical lepra cells show that multiplication has taken place. The organism has, however, changed from the short coccoid form to the long, slender, beaded form. Though the lesions induced and the bacilli present are in every way similar to those found in man, their tendency to disappear gradually after a quiescent stage clearly denotes that the tissues of the monkey, although less refractory than the tissues of the animals previously mentioned, still offer resistance to invasion. While mammals react but poorly to inoculations of the leprosy bacillus, this reaction manifests itself in various ways in different species. For example, while multiplication of the organism with the production of lesions occurs in some species, in others that are more refractory, the injected bacilli assume the involuted or beaded forms and do not multiply or produce lesions; in others, still more resistant to the action of the leprosy bacillus, the organisms quickly undergo granular metamorphosis and disappear. Furthermore, in some species the lesions are, in most instances, limited to the site of inoculation, and though presenting all the characteristics of the lesion in man, the nodules and the bacilli disappear after a variable time. This behavior of the leprosy bacillus can be accounted for only by the degree of resistance offered by the tissues of the individual host. Since the morphology of the organism invariably changes from the short coccoid to the large beaded form when placed in insusceptible animals, and conversely, from the long beaded forms to the short coccoid forms when placed in susceptible animals, the deduction can be drawn that the organism varies in morphology and rapidity of growth according to the susceptibility of the host. Examples of similar behavior of Bacillus lepræ in the human subject are known to all investigators of leprosy. Ulcers and nodular areas often heal, and the bacilli disappear with little or no treatment. It is true that while older lesions are healing, new ones are constantly appearing, yet the duration of the disease and its undoubted tendency towards healing shows that conditions in the human subject are variable, and suggests that the organism has its natural habitat in some other host. The experiments presented here serve to show that the bacillus of leprosy meets but little or no resistance in the tissues of cold-blooded animals, multiplies in their tissues, and may be harbored by them without apparent discomfort or external evidence of the disease. That no appreciable resistance is offered to the multiplication of the leprosy bacillus by many species of cold-blooded animals is shown by the fact that aside from the trauma produced by the inoculation and the slight initial reaction of the tissues, the organism continues to grow profusely, and to invade the tissues without further reaction. Quite the opposite condition occurs in mammals: in some of these the leprosy bacillus degenerates into a granular mass shortly after inoculation; in others that are less refractory, typical lesions appear, but they seldom extend from the point of inoculation; and while the bacilli multiply slowly, they do not infiltrate the tissues, but disappear after a short time, the lesions healing. That multiplication of Bacillus lepræ occurs in the tissues of cold-blooded animals is shown by the fact that while animals examined a few days after inoculation show but a few scattered organisms, those killed at longer intervals show a proportional increase in the number of bacilli. Furthermore, the few bacilli found at the early-period are extracellular and scattered, while after longer periods they tend to be massed and enclosed in large lepra cells. The supposition that these lepra cells are phagocytes has naturally arisen. Duval holds that they are not phagocytes in the true sense of the term, that the bacilli penetrate the cells rather than that the cells engulf them, after which, finding conditions for growth favorable, they multiply without causing serious injury to the cell. The size of the cell depends upon the size of the colony within. The experimental work bears out this view since the decrease in number of the organisms observed in animals killed shortly after inoculation depends not upon phagocytic action nor upon cells which appear later when active lesions are established. In early lesions, the lepra cells are smaller, barely measuring twenty to thirty microns in diameter, and contain but few bacilli; whereas in older ones, they attain a diameter of 100 microns or even more, and contain enormous numbers of bacilli. Were this increase in size due to phagocytic action, some cells would be found in which the limit of their capacity had been reached; and they would either contain a mass of dead and disintegrated bacteria or would themselves show evidence of disintegration. On the contrary, the bacilli, though they occupy most of the cell, show no signs of disintegration, and the nucleus and the cytoplasm of the cell retain normal staining properties. That the invasion and multiplication of the bacilli cause an irritation is evident by the amitotic divisions of the nucleus which occur in the larger cells. The absence of external evidence of invasion by Bacillus lepræ in cold-blooded animals, and the apparent lack of discomfort caused by the presence of the organism within their tissues, are points which should be remembered in considering the sources from which leprosy may be transmitted. In not a single instance in the numerous experiments presented here would it have been possible, from any external sign, to suspect that the animals were harboring multitudes of leprosy bacilli. While the evidence in support of the opinion that leprosy may be transmitted from man to man appears sufficiently strong to warrant this belief, the number of cases in which infection can be actually traced to this source is small. Since leprosy is known to be prevalent where fish and sea-food are plentiful, and since the experiments here recorded prove that fish can be infected by being fed cultures of Bacillus lepræ, or nodules from human lepers, or bits of fish previously infected with the leprosy organism, account should be taken of the possibility that leprosy, in certain localities, may arise from this source of infection. The question as to how and from what source leprosy bacilli enter the human body may be still regarded as an open one. Isolated examples of direct infection of healthy human beings from lepers have been reported by Arning and Nonne, by Manson, and others. The notion that the agency of infection is already infected human beings, that is lepers, is at the foundation of the modern practice of the isolation and segregation of lepers, which would seem to have brought about a definite decrease in the prevalence of the disease. It is an acknowledged fact, however, that the lepers confined in institutions practically never cause infection of nurses, etc. Some other factor than the human agency may therefore be considered as affecting this issue. It is well known that Jonathan Hutchinson has brought forward the idea that fish are the source of the infection, basing the view on the high prevalence of the disease along the coast countries of Norway and Sweden, and in the Pacific Islands, and in the countries bordering the Mediterranean and Black Seas, in all of which fish furnish the chief food material. No convincing proof was ever adduced in support of this contention. But now that it has been shown that the leprosy bacillus survives and multiplies in cold-blooded animals, at least at room temperature in a warm climate, and since methods have been devised for cultivating and identifying the leprosy bacillus, the question has been opened up to accurate investigation. Duval has shown that the leprosy bacillus in cultures grows better at room temperature than at 37° C., so that growth in cold-blooded animals kept at room temperature is perhaps in some way connected with this phenomenon. What must now be ascertained, in order to test the Hutchinsonian theory more accurately is whether such growth takes place at a temperature corresponding with the average mean temperature of such a body of water as the North Sea and that of the fiords of Norway. Since cold-blooded animals possess the same temperature as their surroundings, they would be suitable media for the cultivation of leprosy bacilli at those temperatures. For the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the tropical Pacific Ocean, this consideration would count less. But the theory will stand or fall according as it can account for the whole, and not only for a part, of the phenomena to be explained. As the length and shape of the bacilli and the number of chromatin masses are constant for a given species of cold- or warm-blooded animals, which features are governed by the resistance of the individual species, the following conclusions seem justified: that the morphology and rapid multiplication of the leprosy bacillus in cultures and in some species of cold-blooded animals indicate that Bacillus lepræ under natural conditions is short, coccoid, and un-beaded, and that the long, slender, beaded variety which occurs in the mammalian species is atypical and the product of an unfavorable environment.
PMCID: PMC2124891  PMID: 19867440
Since the purpose of this paper is to record the cultivation of amœbæ upon autolyzed tissue without bacterial association, the morphological characteristics, life cycle, means of differentiating species, and pathogenicity of the protozoa have been omitted. These subjects will be considered in later publications. The result of this study proves that some species of amœbæ from liver abscesses and the human intestine can be cultivated upon various autolyzed tissues of man and some of the lower animals without a symbiotic microorganism. Their cultivation from liver abscesses upon such bacteria-free autolyzed tissue indicates that their multiplication in these lesions depends upon some product or products in the process of dissociation of the liver cells. That such a process exists in amœbic liver abscesses cannot be questioned when histological and biochemical studies are made of such lesions, and this explains not only why the multiplication of the parasites in the organ occurs, but suggests the probable origin of the lesion. It has long been known that tissue kept for several days in a perfectly aseptic condition and at body heat, or preferably at slightly higher temperature undergoes softening and final disintegration of its cells. Wells and others who have made a thorough study of this phenomenon find that different enzymic actions take place in this process: thus in the liver they find that soluble nitrogen compounds are greatly increased, the nucleoproteids are altered by nuclease, the purin bases are freed and in their turn acted upon by the guanase and adenase, the fats are split and fatty acids set free, the glycogen gives rise to glucose and undergoes further splitting. lecithin is cleaved, and allied bodies appear, and there is a marked appearance of cholin and cholesterin. Similar changes varying only in degree occur in the process of autolysis of other tissues. Furthermore, Duval in his experiments upon the cultivation of Bacillus lepræ found that the initial multiplication was accomplished when the specific organism was in symbiosis with an associated bacterium capable of hydrolyzing the leprous tissue. In later experiments he noted that the products of split proteins supply what is actually required for the growth of this particular obligate cell parasite, and that while this end is reached with bacteria through their proteolytic action equally good results can be obtained with tissue free from contaminating microörganisms provided that it is allowed to autolyze. The separation of amœbæ cultivated from the human intestine from their bacterial symbiont, and their development upon various autolyzed tissues indicate that it is not the bacterium that is essential for the life of these protozoa, but the action of the living bacteria upon the protein contained in the media. This would explain the failure of many investigators to cultivate amœbæ with dead bacteria or bacterial filtrates. Mention has been made that the autolyzed tissue used in the cultivation experiments gave a distinct acid reaction. The multiplication of amœbæ upon a medium with such a reaction appears contradictory to the findings of Musgrave and Clegg, Walker, and others, who have emphasized the necessity of an alkaline medium for the successful cultivation of amœbæ with a bacterial symbiont, though in accord with what is known to be the reaction of the contents from amœbic liver abscesses and of the bloody stools in intestinal amœbiosis. The fact should not be lost sight of that, in the cultivation of amœbæ, these authors lay stress upon the selectiveness of amœbæ for a special microörganism. A comparison of their work with our own results indicates that bacteria known to possess strong hydrolyzing properties, e. g., Vibrio choleræ, Bacillus coli, Bacillus subtilis, Vibrio proteus (Finkler-Prior), etc., furnish the best symbionts to the amœbæ. It is well known that these bacteria growing upon gelatin or blood serum liquify the medium and alter its reaction to a marked degree of acidity. This acidity, for the most part, results from dissociation of the protein molecule contained in the media, for Wiener has shown that autolysis does not begin until the normal alkalinity of the tissues has been neutralized by the production of organic acids. Since experiments show that the development of the amœbæ is scant or completely arrested if the autolyzed tissue is smeared upon an acid agar base or upon agar with an alkalinity higher than 1 per cent., the limit within which multiplication can occur must be small. It is possible that this explains why amœbæ are so few in the center of liver abscesses where the acidity is very high and so plentiful in or near its walls where the normal tissue juices furnish a controlling influence over the acidity of the autolyzing tissue. It explains also why a neutral or a 1 to 1.5 per cent. alkaline medium is essential for the cultivation of amœbæ with a bacterial symbiont. Here the necessity for a medium with an alkaline reaction seems necessary, as bacteria, especially those having high hydrolyzing properties, develop a marked acidity in the medium. If the medium possesses an initial acidity the limit is either quickly reached or already present and no multiplication occurs. On the other hand, a medium with a reaction too alkaline either inhibits the growth of symbiotic microörganisms, or neutralizes the acid products as rapidly as they are formed by the associated bacterium. Whether the amœbæ cultivated from liver abscesses and from the intestinal canal upon diverse autolyzed tissues are able to produce lesions similar to those from which they were isolated, or whether they are non-pathogenic species which are accidental contaminators to those responsible for frank lesions, remains still to be determined. Experiments bearing upon these points, as well as on many others made possible by this work, are now under way.
PMCID: PMC2125066  PMID: 19867701
24.  Comments on the psychosocial aspects of the International Conference on Radiation and Health. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1997;105(Suppl 6):1607-1608.
Summary comments on the psychosocial aspects of the International Conference on Radiation and Health highlighted the issues that were salient in the conference. There was a broad consensus that long-term psychosocial effects may turn out to be the most significant source of morbidity. In addressing health concerns there is a need to consider psychological responses, as they may be the source of the high rate of morbidity and use of health services. The public's response to radiation is one of anxiety, fear, and concerns about lack of control over modern technology. Aside from stress there may be alternative mechanisms that explain the high rates of morbidity, such as direct biological effects of radiation on the cardiovascular system. The issue of social stigma is not addressed in most studies of affected populations but may be a potent social force. There is a need for concerned scientists to reach a better consensus about the health effects of radiation and to communicate effectively with the lay public. We need more cross-cultural research on psychosocial aspects and how to more effectively help affected populations. There are auspicious beginnings in this direction.
PMCID: PMC1469953  PMID: 9467091
25.  On the typology and the worship status of sacred trees with a special reference to the Middle East 
This article contains the reasons for the establishment of sacred trees in Israel based on a field study. It includes 97 interviews with Muslim and Druze informants. While Muslims (Arabs and Bedouins) consider sacred trees especially as an abode of righteous figures' (Wellis') souls or as having a connection to their graves, the Druze relate sacred trees especially to the events or deeds in the lives of prophets and religious leaders. A literary review shows the existence of 24 known reasons for the establishment of sacred trees worldwide, 11 of which are known in Israel one of these is reported here for the first time. We found different trends in monotheistic and polytheistic religions concerning their current worship of sacred trees.
PMCID: PMC1500805  PMID: 16700917

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