Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Oct 1 2018For those in the habit of getting their neck adjusted by a chiropractor, the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center has interesting information to know about: High velocity neck manipulation has been shown to result in stress on the eye and lead to spotty vision.The risk is rare, but one that Yannis Paulus, M.D., a retina specialist at Kellogg, reports on in the American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports.The energetic thrusts and rotations sometimes performed in high-velocity neck manipulation have been linked to damage to the blood vessels in the retina. Resulting abnormal bleeding inside the eye may also cause vision loss.This was the case for a 59-year-old woman who experienced a “tadpole” shaped spot in her vision while driving home from a chiropractor visit — with her sight worsening the next day. She had just received cervical spine manipulation using the high-velocity technique to help with her headaches.The woman’s vision returned to normal in about two weeks without treatment.She was referred to Kellogg Eye Center by her optometrist who co-authored the case report.Because the cells of the retina are so sensitive, even small injuries to the blood vessels can translate to vision problems.That’s why Paulus encourages patients to report their alternative medicine pursuits — and for physicians to actively listen and inform them of possible related side effects.Risks from chiropractic treatment Cardiovascular experts have been outspoken about health risks of chiropractic treatment.High-velocity neck manipulation has been associated with a certain type of stroke, or vertebral artery dissection, which led the American Heart Association to issue a warning statement in 2014.Related StoriesNew method improves detection of atrial fibrillation in stroke survivorsStudy explores role of iron in over 900 diseasesStudy reveals long-term benefits of stress urinary incontinence surgeryThe short, rapid movements of neck manipulation may cause a small tear in the artery walls in the neck. The artery wall injury can result in a stroke if a blood clot forms at the site and later breaks free to block a blood vessel in the brain.Eye problems can follow, including double vision or central retinal artery occlusion, a blockage of the artery carrying oxygen to the nerve cells in the retina at the back of the eye.But the case at Kellogg suggests a new complication: direct damage to structures in the eye due to the force of neck adjustments.It’s the first case report of chiropractic care leading to multiple preretinal hemorrhages, authors say.Other possible complications are disrupting the vitreous humor — the clear, gel-like substance that fills the eye between the lens and the retina.The high-velocity technique may have induced a posterior vitreous detachment, or PVD, which occurs when the vitreous humor pulls away from the retina.No specific treatment is needed for PVD. Most patients no longer notice flashes in their vision after three months and “floaters” tend to improve, according to the American Society of Retina Specialists.Complications from PVD are rare but can be serious and in some cases require urgent treatment such as laser treatment to seal the retinal tear or surgery for a retinal detachment.Although the connection to chiropractic care is considered a temporal association, the timing of the patient’s eye symptoms following the chiropractic visit is hard to ignore.Paulus didn’t rule out future chiropractic visits for the patient but notes that “her chiropractor may need to modify techniques used during her visits.” Source:https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/body-work/examining-ties-between-chiropractic-treatment-and-vision-loss
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Mar 18 2019The cardiovascular benefits of the diabetes drug dapagliflozin extend across a wide spectrum of patients and are especially pronounced in those with reduced ejection fraction, a measure of the heart’s pumping ability indicative of poor heart functioning, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68thAnnual Scientific Session.The findings stem from the DECLARE-TIMI 58 trial, which reported in 2018 that dapagliflozin, part of a class of drugs known as SGLT2 inhibitors, reduced the composite primary endpoint of cardiovascular death and heart failure hospitalizations, which was mainly driven by the reduction in hospitalization for heart failure. The new analysis is the first to examine whether dapagliflozin’s benefits can be predicted based on left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), a measure of how effectively the heart’s left ventricle squeezes blood out of its chamber. Ejection fraction, typically evaluated using an ultrasound of the heart known as an echocardiogram, is a tool for objectively evaluating heart function and has been shown to predict how patients respond to other therapies.Heart failure is a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Low ejection fraction can be evidence of heart failure, though many patients have heart failure with normal, or preserved, ejection fraction. Researchers found dapagliflozin decreased heart failure hospitalizations across all patients, regardless of ejection fraction or whether or not they had heart failure at the start of the study. However, the drug significantly decreased rates of death from cardiovascular causes and death from all causes only among those who had a lower ejection fraction.”The use of the SGLT2 inhibitor dapagliflozin is beneficial in reducing hospitalizations for heart failure in patients with a broad range of left ventricular ejection fraction, but patients with reduced ejection fraction may derive an even greater benefit,” said Eri T. Kato, MD, PhD, a cardiologist at Kyoto University Hospital and the study’s lead author. “The clinical implication of this finding is that ejection fraction is a strong tool to identify those who are at highest risk and may derive particular benefit from SGLT2 inhibitors.”SGLT2 inhibitors improve the body’s ability to remove glucose from the bloodstream, helping to regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes. DECLARE-TIMI 58, conducted at 882 sites in 33 countries, enrolled more than 17,000 patients who had Type 2 diabetes, as well as either established cardiovascular disease or a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Patients were randomized to receive dapagliflozin or a placebo and followed for a median of just over four years.Related StoriesStudy explores role of iron in over 900 diseasesObese patients with Type 1 diabetes could safely receive robotic pancreas transplantMothers with gestational diabetes transferring harmful ‘forever chemicals’ to their fetusThirty percent of study participants (5,202 patients) had their LVEF documented at the start of the trial. Of these participants, 13 percent (671 patients) had heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), defined as an ejection fraction less than 45 percent, meaning that just 45 percent of the blood in the left ventricle is squeezed out with each heartbeat.Researchers compared rates of heart failure hospitalizations, cardiovascular death and all-cause mortality among patients with HFrEF and those without HFrEF. They found patients with HFrEF who took dapagliflozin were 38 percent less likely to be hospitalized for heart failure or die of cardiovascular causes compared with those taking placebo, a significantly greater reduction than the 12 percent drop in the likelihood of these events among patients who did not have HFrEF.Patients who had HFrEF also showed a significantly lower rate of cardiovascular death and death from any cause, rates of which dropped by 45 percent and 41 percent, respectively, among those taking dapagliflozin compared to those taking placebo. Researchers did not observe these benefits in patients without HFrEF. Taking dapagliflozin reduced the rate of heart failure hospitalizations among all patients, regardless of ejection fraction or heart failure status.”The reduction in hospitalization for heart failure is remarkable because there have been very few therapies that have shown any benefit both in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction,” Kato said. “Furthermore, there appears to be a benefit for heart failure reduction across a broad spectrum of patients with and without heart failure, suggesting that use of these agents could be beneficial in a very large population of patients with diabetes.”Patients who have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction generally face a higher risk for cardiovascular events and death compared to those with normal ejection fraction. In the trial, these patients also showed a benefit from dapagliflozin in terms of heart failure hospitalizations earlier than the other groups, while the benefits took a year or more to appear in other groups. Noting that the interplay between diabetes and heart failure is complex and multifactorial, Kato said further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms driving these differences.Researchers plan to further analyze the DECLARE-TIMI 58 data to understand dapagliflozin’s effects on metabolic, renal and cardiovascular outcomes. Other ongoing trials are investigating SGLT2 inhibitors in patients with heart failure, which should shed further light on the benefits observed in this study, Kato said.Source: https://www.acc.org/
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 19 2019It takes a lot of connections to create human intelligence. Brain function depends on contacts between multiple regions within the brain. To study how this connectivity is possible – and how it can go awry – international researchers led by The University of Tokyo have grown a working model of a cerebral tract in the lab.The cortex is divided into areas of neurons with distinct roles, such as creating or processing speech, movement, vision, etc. These cortical areas communicate through the cerebral tracts, formed by bundles (fascicles) of thin and long extensions of nerve cells named axons. The Tokyo study, led by the university’s Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), invented a method to create nerve tissue mimicking cerebral tract. This could help answering questions about how long connections within the brain are formed, and ultimately, how the tracts integrate separate cognitive tasks into a unified intelligence.Under the leadership of Yoshiho Ikeuchi, the team grew spheroids of neurons, mimicking the cerebral cortex, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) of human. When two spheroids were placed at two ends of a microdevice that provided physical instructions, they began to extend axons toward each other along a narrow channel separating them.”After 25 days, both tendrils of axons reached all the way down the channel, and the two cortical spheroids were connected,” says Ikeuchi. “We know this was a functional electrical connection, because if one spheroid was electrically stimulated, the other would respond after a short delay. This resembles the situation in a real brain, where distant regions communicate during cognition.”Brain development is complex, and in fact the “cerebral tracts” only grew in the right circumstances. When one end of the microdevice was empty, axons still emerged from the neurons at the other end, but significantly less efficiently. Placing an object such as a glass bead at the empty end did nothing to improve fascicle growth.Related StoriesResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustAn active brain and body associated with reduced risk of dementia”The spheroids promoting each other to grow fascicles is very interesting,” says Takaaki Kirihara, first author of the study in iScience. “It implies that opposing axons mutually guide each other, connecting two groups of neurons. This could help explain how reciprocal connections are formed between distant regions of the brain, sometimes even between different hemispheres.”Although axons growing in a microdevice are by no means the same as a living brain, there is a clue that the tissue culture model was realistic. The gene L1CAM is known to be essential for cerebral tract formation. When L1CAM was knocked-down (suppressed) in the spheroids, many of the axons failed to assemble into a bundle. This suggests the model could be used to study not only normal brain tissue, but also developmental disorders of the cerebral tract.In future, the group proposes to transcend the current setup by building a culture device that expands as the cortical spheroids grow–just as the skull gets bigger through childhood. For now, though, the results show that stem cells can be used to create realistic models of neurons, axons, and their coordinated growth. This opens the possibility of major insights into how the young brain is wired up.The article, “A human iPS cell-derived tissue model of a cerebral tract connecting two cortical regions,” was published in iScience at DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.03.012. Source:https://www.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/en/news/3095/
Related StoriesChaos in the house and asthma in children – the connectionResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeRepurposing a heart drug could increase survival rate of children with ependymomaThe study found that at ages 7-8 years, measles-vaccinated children had significantly higher HAZ scores in India (an increase of 0.13 points, P=0.05), and significantly higher BMIZ and WAZ scores in Vietnam (an increase of 0.18 and 0.23 points, P=0.04, 0.01 ) as compared with matched measles-unvaccinated children. Measles-vaccinated children scored 2.3, 2.5, and 2.7 points more on EGRA in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam, respectively. Vaccinated children scored 4.5 and 2.6 percentage points (pp) higher on PPVT and 2.9 and 4.0 pp higher on mathematics in Ethiopia and Vietnam.Similarly, at ages 11-12 years, measles-vaccinated children had 0.19 higher BMIZ scores in Vietnam (P= 0.04), and they scored 3 pp more on English and PPVT in India. Vaccinated children also attained 0.2-0.3 higher schooling grades across all ages and countries compared to measles-unvaccinated children.Findings indicate that measles vaccination at 6-18 months of life is associated with long-term health, cognition, and schooling benefits among children in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam.”As a pediatrician and parent myself, I feel confident that these results will show other parents and medical workers how the measles vaccine may help their children achieve better health and educational outcomes.”, said Anita Shet, who is a coauthor of the study and a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.CDDEP director Ramanan Laxminarayan, a coauthor of the study, said, “At a time when there is hesitation about measles vaccination by parents, the results of this study are an important reminder that the benefits of measles vaccination go beyond child survival and are instrumental in enabling adults who have higher cognitive ability, education and physical stature. These are critical to economic development that every country aspires to.” Source:Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & PolicyJournal reference:Nandi, A. et al. (2019) Anthropometric, cognitive, and schooling benefits of measles vaccination: Longitudinal cohort analysis in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam. Vaccine. doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.06.025. We reviewed children who were followed since infancy through childhood and used statistical techniques that produced robust estimates of the associations of measles vaccination with later life outcomes. It is the first and the largest multi-country study of its kind.”CDDEP senior fellow Arindam Nandi, the lead author of the study Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 21 2019While the measles vaccine has eliminated the virus in many high-income countries, the global burden of disease persists with an estimated 245,000 measles cases and 68,000 measles-associated deaths worldwide in 2016. India alone accounted for 50 percent of measles cases and 30 percent of measles deaths in 2016. Although low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) account for a large proportion of global measles cases, high-income countries have recently seen a resurgence of measles outbreaks.According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been over 1,000 measles cases reported across 28 states in the US so far in 2019. This is the largest number of cases the country has seen in almost 3 decades, and since measles was eliminated in 2000. Despite these recent setbacks, the highly efficacious and cost-effective measles vaccine prevented an estimated 21.1 million child deaths worldwide between 2000-2017. The vaccine has also been tied to reductions in all-cause childhood mortality and infectious disease morbidity outcomes in LMICs, although little generalizable evidence exists on the early-life receipt of measles vaccines and associated child growth parameters, cognition, and schooling grades.Researchers examined Z- scores of height-for-age (HAZ), BMI-for-age (BMIZ), weight-for-age (WAZ), scores of Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), early grade reading assessment (EGRA), language and mathematics tests, and highest schooling attainment across ~6,000 measles-vaccinated and unvaccinated children in Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam. Propensity score matching methods were used to reduce the effects of potential confounding factors.Researchers analyzed survey data from 3 cohorts of children enrolled in the Young Lives Survey (YLS), a longitudinal study assessing childhood poverty. Growth, cognitive, and schooling indicators were evaluated across measles-vaccination groups, and outcomes at ages 7-8 and 11-12 years were compared between children across the 3 countries with reported receipt or non-receipt of measles vaccination at 6-18 months of life.
We now have a fantastic mouse model that mirrors the human disease. It’s a powerful lab model, where we can introduce changes at will and test the importance of different components of the immune response to infection, which is just what we need to develop an effective vaccine.”Boris Striepen, Biologist, Penn Vet and Study Senior Author Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 21 2019The intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes a diarrheal disease, is very good at infecting humans. It’s the leading cause of waterborne disease from recreational waters in the United States. Globally, it’s a serious illness that can stunt the growth of, or even kill, infants and young children. And people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are also highly susceptible. There is no vaccine and no effective treatment.Surprisingly, the parasite strains that infect humans don’t do such a good job at infecting mice. To study the disease, researchers have had to rely on mice with defective immune systems, a model that made it difficult to understand how to elicit an immune response that could protect children.But that is set to change. Using a naturally occurring species of mouse Cryptosporidium, a team led by researchers from Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine has developed a model of infection that affects immunologically normal mice. They show that mice develop immunity to the parasite after infection, and that a live attenuated vaccine offers the animals protection against it. Their findings appear in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. Mice that received the experimental vaccine, which used a weakened version of the parasite, were as protected from infection as those that had already weathered an initial infection, the researchers found. “We were able to show that the mice were protected –not by sterile immunity–but by very robust protection from disease, which is exactly what is observed in children,” says Adam Sateriale, first author on the report and a postdoctoral researcher in Striepen’s lab.Striepen has focused on advancing science on Cryptosporidium for the last several years. One major advance came in 2015, when his lab found success in using the CRISPR-Cas9 technology to genetically modify the organism.In the new work, Striepen, Sateriale, and colleagues aimed to develop a method to more easily study the parasite in mice, which are resistant to the two species responsible for most human infections. Taking a different tack, they searched for Cryptosporidium DNA in mice feces from farms and found one species, C. tyzzeri, in 30 percent of the samples.”One of the first things we did was sequence and annotate the genome,” says Sateriale, finding it to be an extremely close relative of the species that affect humans. “Once we know the genome, we can not only see how it varies compared to those species, but we can also begin to use our genetic tools to manipulate it.”Related StoriesGeorgia State researcher wins $3.26 million federal grant to develop universal flu vaccineUM scientists receive $3.3 million NIH contract to develop opioid addiction vaccineScripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approachAmong the manipulations the researchers made using CRISPR were introducing genes that make the parasite glow using a gene borrowed from the firefly, allowing them to precisely, but non-invasively, track the infection.Unlike the more artificial models of infection that used immunocompromised mice, the Penn-led team showed that C. tyzzeri could infect healthy mice, causing an infection that replicated many features of human disease.”Some of the main immunological components that have been shown to be important in people were also true of this mouse model,” Striepen notes.Specifically, they found that T cells and the protein interferon-gamma, a key player in fighting off a variety of infections, were both critical in the body’s response to the parasite. Mice lacking the gene for interferon-gamma and those that lacked T cells had more severe, longer-lasting infections than normal mice.”Understanding these correlates of immunity–how the parasite triggers an immune response, and by what mechanism the immune system then attacks the parasite–are important aspects of vaccine development,” Striepen says.Knowing that children who become infected with Cryptosporidium can develop resistance to subsequent infections, the researchers wanted to see if the same held true in the mice. After confirming that this was the case, their final effort was to attempt to vaccinate the mice. They exposed C. tyzzeri spores to radiation to weaken them. Mice that received the vaccination with the live attenuated C. tyzzeri were protected from infection, though mice lacking either interferon-gamma or T cells were not protected, again underscoring the importance of these factors in developing anti-Cryptosporidium immunity.Encouraged by their findings, the researchers are continuing to probe the pathways involved in conferring immune protection against Cryptosporidium infection, and are sharing their model with colleagues to aggressively pursue a vaccine or other treatments for the disease.”We feel fortunate to be at the vet school and at Penn in general as we work on these questions,” says Striepen. “Here we can build larger teams of parasite biologists, and experts in the study of immune responses like our colleague Christopher Hunter, so we’re building up an interdisciplinary effort that can overcome the challenges of working on these complex investigations. And hopefully this will lead to advances that protect children.” Source:University of PennsylvaniaJournal reference:Sateriale, A. et al. (2019) A Genetically Tractable, Natural Mouse Model of Cryptosporidiosis Offers Insights into Host Protective Immunity. Cell Host & Microbe. doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2019.05.006
By Sally Robertson, B.Sc.Jul 11 2019Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have found that children’s mattresses may represent a health hazard as they emit some dangerous pollutants at concerning levels overnight. Journal reference:Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Polyurethane Mattresses under Variable Environmental Conditions. Sabach, Sara, Merav, Bareket, and Oz, Kira. ACS Publications, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.9b01557 On measuring the emission rates of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the team found that under sleeping conditions, certain polyurethane mattresses emit the gaseous compounds at levels that may be worrisome for children and infants.However, the study did not provide any evidence of adverse health effects and the researchers say more studies are needed. Avoiding exposure to VOCs is impossible since they are found in hundreds of household items, including furniture, candles, paint, carpets, electronics, vinyl flooring, cosmetics and hairsprays. During sleep, poor bedroom ventilation and the proximity of the nose and mouth to the mattress means people probably inhale more of the compounds during this time than during other times of the day.Exposure at high levels can be toxic and has been associated with health risks such as headaches, nausea, nerve problems, kidney damage and even cancer.Measuring the VOCs Emitted by MattressesNow, Yael Dubowski and team have used eight types of children’s polyurethane mattresses to test the levels of VOCs they release and compare them to known risk levels for the compounds. They also measured how temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration – all of which increase under sleeping conditions – may influence the level of several VOCs emitted. The researchers point out that children spend up to half their time in a sleeping environment. The researchers placed pieces of the mattresses into continuous-flow chambers and took samples of exiting air to analyse levels of 18 VOCs using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. They found that the mattresses released similar amounts of the compounds, with the exception of a flame-retardant compound that only one infant mattress emitted.As reported in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, the mattresses emitted higher levels of VOCs once they were heated to body temperature. A temperature that matched body heat was a major contributor to elevated VOC emission, compared with humidity and carbon dioxide.The Risk Associated with these Exposure LevelsSince the researchers suspected that people may breathe in worrying levels of the compounds when their faces are next to the mattresses, they estimated the doses inhaled by adults, infants and children. They found that in most cases, exposure levels were well below risk levels for cancer and non-cancer related health problems. However, among infants and young children, the inhalation of some compounds such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde and benzene reached what could be worrisome levels.Another compound that represented a potential health risk was butylated hydroxytoluene, levels of which varied greatly between the different mattresses. In recent years, some studies have raised concern over whether butylated hydroxytoluene may have the potential to be carcinogenic, although this study found that levels were well below reference levels for cancer and non-cancer risk.What are the Possible Adverse Health Outcomes?Related StoriesResearchers identify gene mutations linked to leukemia in children with Down’s syndromeResearch team receives federal grant to study obesity in children with spina bifidaDaily intake for phosphates in infants, children can exceed health guidance valuesThe study did not investigate the possible adverse health outcomes for exposure to the VOCs, but multiple previous studies have implicated them in the onset of childhood asthma and the worsening of asthma in adults. The inhalation of VOCs is also known to be a potential eye, nose and throat irritant. It can also cause breathing problems.However, Alastair Lewis, from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of York, who was not involved in the research, says that the majority of VOCs are not damaging to health, although some research suggests that levels are increasing in air tight homes due to being trapped through a lack of ventilation: “If air gets trapped in a home, then there is some potential for even safe VOCs to be oxidised to more harmful products. Furnishings, such as sofas, carpets, beds and so on, can take longer to outgas, since VOCs are buried deeper in the product.”Lewis says the thick polyurethane mattress used in the study is probably a worst-case example for testing VOCs due to its sponge-like composition and slow release of the compounds, but that even these mattresses lose their VOCs eventually. He also suggests that if a parent is concerned, they could opt for a cotton-, wool- or spring-based mattress, which would contain less VCOs.Further StudiesDubowski and team conclude by saying: “Exposure levels estimated for sleeping child/infant indicate that SME [sleeping microenvironment] can be a significant contributor to VOC exposure, yielding concerning exposure levels for few compounds.” They say further studies are needed to assess the potential health impact of long-term, low-level exposure to VOCs.More about VOCs VOCs are gaseous compounds that are released by certain solid and liquid materials They include a range of chemicals, some of which have been associated with both short- and long-term adverse health effects The levels of many VOCs are often higher inside the home than outdoors – sometimes up to ten times higher The chemicals are widely used ingredients in household items and are released by thousands of products Fuels are made up of VOCs All of these products and substances release VOCs while they are being used and, to a certain, extent whilst they are stored The risk of adverse health effects varies significantly from VOCs that are highly toxic to those that are harmless The severity and nature of the adverse health effects depend on multiple factors including time and level of exposure Examples of harmful effects include headaches, poor coordination, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system damage, and eye, nose and throat irritation. Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in animals and humans
Britain on Thursday cleared the way for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to take full control of pan-European TV giant Sky after Fox agreed to address media plurality concerns. Explore further © 2018 AFP Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox ups Sky bid to beat rival Comcast Despite the clearance, satellite pay-TV group Sky could still end up being bought by Comcast or Disney amid a US media industry tug-of-war.”It is now a matter for the Sky shareholders to decide whether to accept 21CF’s bid,” Britain’s Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said in a statement.Fox’s long-running pursuit for all of Sky had been plagued by UK government fears over media plurality and broadcasting standards—and the influence of Australian-born US citizen Murdoch.Critics say that allowing Murdoch—who owns major British newspaper titles The Times and The Sun—full control of Sky News would give him too much influence in the UK news business.To remedy this, Fox has proposed to sell the rolling TV news channel to Disney should it win full control of Sky.The UK government’s statement meanwhile comes one day after both Comcast and 21st Century Fox raised their bids for Sky, escalating a takeover battle as media giants reposition themselves for the streaming era.Comcast lifted its offer to £26 billion ($34.3 billion, 29.5 billion euros) only hours after Fox boosted its offer for the 61 percent of Sky it does not own. Fox’s latest bid values Sky at £24.5 billion.Beefing up creative contentThe battle for Sky comes as Comcast is also embroiled in a takeover battle with Disney for Fox entertainment assets that are being split off from Murdoch’s empire. Some analysts have said Comcast could drop its bid for the Fox assets should it win Sky.Media giants such as Disney and Comcast have been looking to beef up their creative offerings to compete with Netflix and other streaming services that are eroding the value of conventional cable television assets.Sky’s jewel in the crown is its live coverage of English Premier League football, while the group also provides broadband internet and telephone services.Shares in Sky were up 2.7 percent at £15.35 in London deals on Thursday, above both Comcast’s latest offer of £14.75 per share and Fox’s improved bid at £14.”The stock market continues to believe that the winner of the Sky takeover battle will pay more than has currently been offered,” noted Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.”Takeover battles don’t go on forever and at some point one of the competing parties will have to admit defeat,” he added.Sky changed its name from BSkyB after agreeing in 2014 to buy Sky Italia and a majority holding in Sky Deutschland.In 2011, Murdoch was forced to abandon a takeover bid for BSkyB—as controversy raged over the hacking of celebrities and crime victims by his tabloid the News of the World, which was subsequently shut down. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: UK clears way for 21st Century Fox to buy Sky (2018, July 12) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-uk-21st-century-fox-sky.html Sky’s jewel in the crown is its live coverage of English Premier League soccer
More information: Martin Stolterfoht et al, Visualization and suppression of interfacial recombination for high-efficiency large-area pin perovskite solar cells, Nature Energy (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41560-018-0219-8 Even solar cells made of a perfect miracle material would never be able to convert 100 percent of sunlight to electrical energy. This is because the theoretical maximum achievable power is limited by the position of the energy bands of the electrons, and by unavoidable radiation of photons (the thermodynamic or Shockley-Queisser limit). Maximum power conversion efficiency for silicon is about 33 percent, for example. But even this value will never actually be reached. This is due to defects of various kinds causing the loss of some of the charge carriers released by sunlight. In order to approach the maximum value, it is therefore necessary to investigate the various defects in solar cells and determine which ones lead to losses and how.Organometallic perovskite absorber layers are regarded as a particularly exciting new material class for solar cells—in just 10 years, their efficiency has increased from three per cent to over twenty per cent, an amazing success story. Now a team headed by Prof. Dr. Dieter Neher at the University of Potsdam and Dr. Thomas Unold at HZB has succeeded in identifying the decisive loss processes in perovskite solar cells that limit the efficiency.At certain defects in the crystal lattice of the perovskite layer, charge carriers (i.e. electrons and “holes”) that have just been released by sunlight can recombine again and thus be lost. But whether these defects were preferentially located within the perovskite layer, or instead at the interface between the perovskite layer and the transport layer was unclear until now.To determine this, the scientists employed photoluminescence techniques with high precision, spatial and temporal resolution. Using laser light, they excited the square-centimetre-sized perovskite layer and detected where and when the material emitted light in response to the excitation. “This measurement method at our lab is so precise, we can determine the exact number of photons that have been emitted,” explains Unold. And not only that, the energy of the emitted photons was precisely recorded and analyzed as well using a hyperspectral CCD camera.”In this way, we were able to calculate the losses at every point of the cell and thereby determine that the most harmful defects are located at the interfaces between the perovskite absorber layer and the charge transport layers,” reports Unold. This is important information for further improving perovskite solar cells, for instance by means of intermediate layers that have a positive effect or through modified fabrication methods.With the help of these findings, the group led by Prof. Dr. Dieter Neher and Dr. Martin Stolterfoht at the University of Potsdam has succeeded in reducing interfacial recombination and thus increasing the efficiency of 1cm2-sized perovskite solar cells to well over 20 percent. Provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres Explore further Interest in tandem solar cells heats up With additional layers between the perovskite semiconductor and the hole- and electron-transportlayers (red and blue lines), the team at the University of Potsdam was able to further increase efficiency of the perovskite cell. Credit: Uni Potsdam Journal information: Nature Energy This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Insight into loss processes in perovskite solar cells enables efficiency improvements (2018, August 2) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-insight-loss-perovskite-solar-cells.html In perovskite solar cells, charge carriers are mainly lost through recombination occurring at interface defect sites. In contrast, recombination at defect sites within the perovskite layer does not limit the performance of the solar cells at present. Teams from the University of Potsdam and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) were able to reach this interesting conclusion through extremely accurate quantitative measurements on 1 cm2 perovskite cells using photoluminescence. Their results contribute to improving perovskite solar cells and have now been published in Nature Energy.
Explore further US automaker Ford—which announced a major restructuring in July—unveiled plans Friday to reduce its workforce worldwide, without specifying the extent of the plan. Ford surprised many analysts by announcing massive cost-cutting targets and plans to phase out many sedans in North America amid surging demand for sport-utility vehicles and other trucks Ford deepens cost cuts even as earnings rise Citation: Ford to cut global workforce (2018, October 6) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-ford-global-workforce.html © 2018 AFP “We are in the early stages of reorganizing our global salaried workforce to support the company’s strategic objectives, create a more dynamic and empowering work environment, and become more fit as a business,” Ford said late Friday.”The reorganization will result in headcount reduction over time and this will vary based on team and location. We will announce more specifics at the appropriate time.”On July 25, Ford announced that a revamping of the company’s operations could result in one-time charges of $11 billion over the next three to five years.But it did not say whether this would result in job cuts or plant closures, rather indicating that it was considering redesigning certain models, reallocating cash to profitable segments and reconsidering certain strategic partnerships.In April, Ford surprised many analysts by announcing massive cost-cutting targets and plans to phase out many sedans in North America amid surging demand for sport-utility vehicles and other trucks.Ford said in late September that the company was seeing profits slashed by $1 billion due to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. “All of us who live in this country depend on its strong defense,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post.”Today the citizens in our military risk their lives not only as the country’s first line of defense, but often as the nation’s first line of assistance around the world in hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other disasters.”The statement came two weeks after Google dropped out of the bidding for the huge Pentagon cloud computing contract that could be worth up to $10 billion. The company said the deal would be inconsistent with its principles, which left Amazon and Microsoft as two leading contenders.Smith said Microsoft has been a longstanding supplier of technology for the US military, and added that the company was aware of the potential ethical concerns about the use of artificial intelligence in warfare.”We appreciate that technology is creating new ethical and policy issues that the country needs to address in a thoughtful and wise manner,” Smith wrote.”But we can’t expect these new developments to be addressed wisely if the people in the tech sector who know the most about technology withdraw from the conversation.”Smith said he and chief executive Satya Nadella clarified Microsoft’s position in a conversation with employees, and acknowledged “that some of our employees may have different views” on the matter.He said that Microsoft would respect the position of employees who did not want to work on a military project and would offer the option of shifting jobs where possible.Smith said Microsoft is maintaining its bid for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract aimed at modernizing the military’s computing systems.Earlier this month, Google said it was dropping its JEDI bid in part because “we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI principles” unveiled this year. Those points state the company would steer clear of “technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm” and “weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people.”Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said recently his company would maintain its JEDI bid, saying it was important to support US defense efforts even if unpopular.”This is a great country and it does need to be defended,” Bezos said at the Wired 25th Anniversary conference in San Francisco. © 2018 AFP Microsoft president Brad Smith said the US tech giant will maintain its bid for a major Pentagon cloud computing contract while participating in the debate on artificial intelligence for military purposes Bezos defends Amazon effort for Pentagon cloud project Citation: Microsoft to keep Pentagon bid amid ethics concerns (2018, October 27) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-10-microsoft-pentagon-ethics.html Microsoft said Friday it is prepared to provide its technology to the US military, including for a massive cloud computing project, despite ethics concerns among some of its employees and others in Silicon Valley.