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Antibiotic resistance is an increasing battle for scientists to overcome, as more antimicrobials are urgently needed to treat biofilm-associated infections. However scientists from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick say research into natural antimicrobials could provide candidates to fill the antibiotic discovery gap.
Bacteria can live in two ways, as individual planktonic cells or as a multicellular biofilm. Biofilm helps protect bacteria from antibiotics, making them much harder to treat, one such biofilm that is particularly hard to treat is those that infect diabetic foot ulcers.
[...] Building on previous research done by the University of Nottingham on using medieval remedies to treat MRSA, the researchers from the School of Life Sciences at University of Warwick reconstructed a 1,000-year-old medieval remedy containing onion, garlic, wine, and bile salts, which is known as 'Bald's eyesalve', and showed it to have promising antibacterial activity. The team also showed that the mixture caused low levels of damage to human cells.
They found the Bald's eyesalve remedy was effective against a range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive wound pathogens in planktonic culture. This activity is maintained against the following pathogens grown as biofilms:
- Acinetobacter baumanii—commonly associated with infected wounds in combat troops returning from conflict zones.
- Stenotrophomonas maltophilia—commonly associated with respiratory infections in humans
- Staphylococcus aureus—a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning.
- Staphylococcus epidermidis—a common cause of infections involving indwelling foreign devices such as a catheter, surgical wound infections, and bacteremia in immunocompromised patients.
- Streptococcus pyogenes—causes numerous infections in humans including pharyngitis, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, cellulitis, rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
All of these bacteria can be found in the biofilms that infect diabetic foot ulcers and which can be resistant to antibiotic treatment. These debilitating infections can lead to amputation to avoid the risk of the bacteria spreading to the blood to cause lethal bacteremia.
Jessica Furner-Pardoe, Blessing O. Anonye, Ricky Cain, et al. Anti-biofilm efficacy of a medieval treatment for bacterial infection requires the combination of multiple ingredients [open], Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-69273-8)
The Chinese Navy's newest amphibious warfare asset, the Type 075 LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) is setting sail for the first time, according to ship spotter reports.
The vessel, which was built in Shanghai, has been fitting out since it was floated on September 26, 2019. Candid photos surfacing on the Chinese language internet show it being fueled, and tugs readied.
The Type-075 represents a step-change in the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) amphibious warfare capabilities. It will enable better over-the-horizon landing capabilities and improve air cover. And there are already rumors of the follow-on Type-076 LHD which is expected to include EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) for unmanned combat aerial vehicles or crewed aircraft. At this stage, these rumors should be treated with caution. But they do give an indication of the direction PLAN amphibious capabilities are going.
In addition to the well-deck for Type 726 hovercraft (generally equivalent to the U.S. Navy's Landing Craft Air Cushion), the LHD will have a large rotor-wing component. This will include the Z-8 transport helicopter which is based on the French SA 321 Super Frelon. More modern types seen aboard, in mock-up form, include the naval variant of the Harbin Z-20 — an apparent copy of the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk-Sea Hawk family.
[Emphasis in original retained. What appears here is the tl;dr summary; the article provides the steps taken to sleuth this out, as well as a timeline of the researcher's communications with Zoom that started on April 1st. --Ed.]
Zoom meetings were default protected by a 6 digit numeric password, meaning 1 million maximum passwords. I discovered a vulnerability in the Zoom web client that allowed checking if a password is correct for a meeting, due to broken CSRF and no rate limiting.
This enabled an attacker to attempt all 1 million passwords in a matter of minutes and gain access to other people's private (password protected) Zoom meetings.
This also raises the troubling question as to whether others were potentially already using this vulnerability to listen in to other people's calls (e.g. the UK Cabinet Meeting!).
I reported the issue to Zoom, who quickly took the web client offline to fix the problem. They seem to have mitigated it by both requiring a user logs in to join meetings in the web client, and updating default meeting passwords to be non-numeric and longer. Therefore this attack no longer works.
Welcome to the final episode in The Register's series on engineering longevity in space. We conclude with the joint ESA and NASA project, more than 24 years into a two-year mission: the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
Launched atop an Atlas II-AS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 2 December 1995 at 08:08 UT, SOHO's prime scientific objectives are to investigate the outer layer and study the interior of the Sun as well as observe the solar wind.
[...] SOHO orbits the First Lagrangian Point (L1), lurking approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth and enjoys an uninterrupted view of the Sun. Its primary mission was supposed to last for two years but is now approaching the quarter-century mark.
However, it is not its extraordinary longevity for which SOHO is famous. It is for an almost mission-ending incident in 1998, the recovery from which cemented the probe's reputation as one of ESA's luckiest spacecraft, as well as one of its most long-lived.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says apps and websites aren't legally liable for third-party content, has inspired a lot of overheated rhetoric in Congress. Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) have successfully framed the rule as a "gift to Big Tech" that enables social media censorship. While Democrats have very different critiques, some have embraced a similar fire-and-brimstone tone with the bipartisan EARN IT Act. But a Senate subcommittee tried to reset that narrative today with a hearing for the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, a similarly bipartisan attempt at a more nuanced Section 230 amendment. While the hearing didn't address all of the PACT Act's very real flaws, it presented the bill as an option for Section 230 defenders who still want a say in potential reforms.
[...] Still, Section 230 has been at the forefront of US politics for years, and some kind of change looks increasingly likely. If that's true, then particularly after today's hearing, a revised version of the PACT Act looks like the clearest existing option to preserve important parts of the law without dismissing calls for reform. And hashing out those specifics may prove more important than focusing on the policy's most hyperbolic critics.
Preston Estep was alone in a borrowed laboratory, somewhere in Boston. No big company, no board meetings, no billion-dollar payout from Operation Warp Speed, the US government's covid-19 vaccine funding program. No animal data. No ethics approval.
What he did have: ingredients for a vaccine. And one willing volunteer.
Estep swirled together the mixture and spritzed it up his nose.
Nearly 200 covid-19 vaccines are in development and some three dozen are at various stages of human testing. But in what appears to be the first "citizen science" vaccine initiative, Estep and at least 20 other researchers, technologists, or science enthusiasts, many connected to Harvard University and MIT, have volunteered as lab rats for a do-it-yourself inoculation against the coronavirus. They say it's their only chance to become immune without waiting a year or more for a vaccine to be formally approved.
Among those who've taken the DIY vaccine is George Church, the celebrity geneticist at Harvard University, who took two doses a week apart earlier this month. The doses were dropped in his mailbox and he mixed the ingredients himself.
Church believes the vaccine designed by Estep, his former graduate student at Harvard and one of his proteges, is extremely safe. "I think we are at much bigger risk from covid considering how many ways you can get it, and how highly variable the consequences are," says Church, who says he has not stepped outside of his house in five months. The US Centers for Disease Control recently reported that as many as one-third of patients who test positive for covid-19 but are never hospitalized battle symptoms for weeks or even months after contracting the virus. "I think that people are highly underestimating this disease," Church says.
Harmless as the experimental vaccine may be, though, whether it will protect anyone who takes it is another question. And the independent researchers who are making and sharing it might be stepping onto thin legal ice, if they aren't there already.
Blanket restrictions on economic activity should be lifted and replaced with measures targeted specifically at groups most at risk, say economists.
[...] They argue that while the extent to which the lockdown contributed to a subsequent slowing in the rate of new infections and deaths is not easy to estimate precisely, it seems clear that it did contribute to these public health objectives.
However, they say it is "very far from clear" whether keeping such tight restrictions in place for three months until the end of June when they began to be lifted was warranted, given the large costs. They say that the costs of carrying on with such a lockdown are likely to have become significantly greater than its benefits.
Debate over the global dilemma continues.
Using a quantum computer to simulate time travel, researchers have demonstrated that, in the quantum realm, there is no "butterfly effect." In the research, information—qubits, or quantum bits—'time travel' into the simulated past. One of them is then strongly damaged, like stepping on a butterfly, metaphorically speaking. Surprisingly, when all qubits return to the 'present,' they appear largely unaltered, as if reality is self-healing.
[...] In the team's experiment, Alice, a favorite stand-in agent used for quantum thought experiments, prepares one of her qubits in the present time and runs it backwards through the quantum computer. In the deep past, an intruder—Bob, another favorite stand-in—meaures[sic] Alice's qubit. This action disturbs the qubit and destroys all its quantum correlations with the rest of the world. Next, the system is run forward to the present time.
According to Ray Bradbury, Bob's small damage to the state and all those correlations in the past should be quickly magnified during the complex forward-in-time evolution. Hence, Alice should be unable to recover her information at the end.
But that's not what happened. Yan and Sinitsyn found that most of the presently local information was hidden in the deep past in the form of essentially quantum correlations that could not be damaged by minor tampering. They showed that the information returns to Alice's qubit without much damage despite Bob's interference. Counterintuitively, for deeper travels to the past and for bigger "worlds," Alice's final information returns to her even less damaged.
"We found that the notion of chaos in classical physics and in quantum mechanics must be understood differently," Sinitsyn said.
The more damage you do in the past, the less the present is affected?
For many years, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's has been based on the characterization of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, typically after a person dies. An inexpensive and widely available blood test for the presence of plaques and tangles would have a profound impact on Alzheimer's research and care. According to the new study, measurements of phospho-tau217 (p-tau217), one of the tau proteins found in tangles, could provide a relatively sensitive and accurate indicator of both plaques and tangles -- corresponding to the diagnosis of Alzheimer's -- in living people.
[...] Researchers evaluated a new p-tau217 blood test in 1,402 cognitively impaired and unimpaired research participants from well-known studies in Arizona, Sweden, and Colombia. The study, which was coordinated from Lund University in Sweden, included 81 Arizona participants in Banner Sun Health Research Institute's Brain Donation program who had clinical assessments and provided blood samples in their last years of life and then had neuropathological assessments after they died; 699 participants in the Swedish BioFINDER Study who had clinical, brain imaging, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and blood-based biomarker assessments; and 522 Colombian autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD)-causing mutation carriers and non-carriers from the world's largest ADAD cohort.
Sebastian Palmqvist, Shorena Janelidze, Yakeel T. Quiroz, et al. Accuracy of Plasma P-tau217 for Distinguishing Alzheimer Disease From Other Neurodegenerative Disorders, JAMA (DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.12134)
Successful detection in the study cohorts ranged from 89% to 96%.
The Food and Drug Administration is renewing warnings this week of dangerous hand sanitizers as it continues to find products that contain toxic methanol—a poisonous alcohol that can cause systemic effects, blindness, and death.
The agency's growing "do-not-use list" of dangerous sanitizers now includes 87 products. And with the mounting tally, the FDA also says there are rising reports from state health departments and poison control centers of injuries and deaths.
"We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn in a statement.
NASA and SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) carried two astronauts, Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken. Subsequent missions will carry four astronauts, starting with SpaceX Crew-1 in September 2020. Now, the astronauts flying on SpaceX Crew-2 in 2021 have been announced, and they will likely be launched using "flight-proven" hardware:
NASA and its international partners have assigned crew members for Crew-2, which will be the second operational SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the mission. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.
Crew-2 is targeted to launch in spring 2021, following the successful completion of both NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission, which is expected to return to Earth Aug. 2, and the launch of NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission, which is targeted for late September. The Crew-2 astronauts will remain aboard the space station for approximately six months as expedition crew members, along with three crewmates who will launch via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The increase of the full space station crew complement to seven members – over the previous six – will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in space.
If Demo-2 Crew Dragon capsule C206 is able to safely return astronauts Behnken and Hurley to Earth and make it back to dry land in one piece, it could become the first American space capsule in history to launch astronauts into orbit twice. The same goes for Crew-1 Falcon 9 booster B1061: if it successfully launches and lands as part of SpaceX's operational astronaut launch debut, it will be refurbished to become the first liquid rocket booster in the world to support two astronaut launches when it flies again on Crew-2.
Hokkaido University researchers have found a soft and wet material that can memorize, retrieve, and forget information, much like the human brain. They report their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The human brain learns things, but tends to forget them when the information is no longer important. Recreating this dynamic memory process in manmade materials has been a challenge. Hokkaido University researchers now report a hydrogel that mimics the dynamic memory function of the brain: encoding information that fades with time depending on the memory intensity.
Hydrogels are flexible materials composed of a large percentage of water—in this case about 45%—along with other chemicals that provide a scaffold-like structure to contain the water. Professor Jian Ping Gong, Assistant Professor Kunpeng Cui and their students and colleagues in Hokkaido University's Institute for Chemical Reaction Design and Discovery (WPI-ICReDD) are seeking to develop hydrogels that can serve biological functions.
"Hydrogels are excellent candidates to mimic biological functions because they are soft and wet like human tissues," says Gong. "We are excited to demonstrate how hydrogels can mimic some of the memory functions of brain tissue."
Chengtao Yu, Honglei Guo, Kunpeng Cui, et al. Hydrogels as dynamic memory with forgetting ability [$], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2006842117)
New Zealand has just become the first country to publish an algorithm charter regulating the use of algorithms and data by government agencies:
The Algorithm charter for Aotearoa New Zealand demonstrates a commitment to ensuring New Zealanders have confidence in how government agencies use algorithms. The charter is one of many ways that government demonstrates transparency and accountability in the use of data.
"Using algorithms to analyse data and inform decisions does not come without its risks," he said. "It is important, therefore, that people have confidence that these algorithms are being used in a fair, ethical, and transparent way. And that's what this Charter is all about."
Over about eight years, the American drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp quietly added facial recognition systems to 200 stores across the United States, in one of the largest rollouts of such technology among retailers in the country, a Reuters investigation found.
In the hearts of New York and metro Los Angeles, Rite Aid deployed the technology in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods, according to a Reuters analysis. And for more than a year, the retailer used state-of-the-art facial recognition technology from a company with links to China and its authoritarian government.
In telephone and email exchanges with Reuters since February, Rite Aid confirmed the existence and breadth of its facial recognition program. The retailer defended the technology's use, saying it had nothing to do with race and was intended to deter theft and protect staff and customers from violence. Reuters found no evidence that Rite Aid's data was sent to China.
Last week, however, after Reuters sent its findings to the retailer, Rite Aid said it had quit using its facial recognition software. It later said all the cameras had been turned off.
It's a very long article:
Reuters pieced together how the company's initiative evolved, how the software has been used and how a recent vendor was linked to China, drawing on thousands of pages of internal documents from Rite Aid and its suppliers, as well as direct observations during store visits by Reuters journalists and interviews with more than 40 people familiar with the systems' deployment.
A team of scientists at the University of Glasgow has identified a cat in the UK that was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Researchers from the MRC-University of Glasgow Center for Virus Research (CVR) in partnership with the Veterinary Diagnostic Service (VDS) of the University's School of Veterinary Medicine made the discovery as part of their joint research program in which they have screened hundreds of samples for COVID-19 infections in the feline population in the UK.
[...] Professor William Weir of the University of Glasgow's School of Veterinary Medicine said: "The factors that govern why one species is susceptible to the COVID-19 virus while others are more resistant are currently unknown, but will likely reveal more about how this virus spreads and causes disease. At present, there is no evidence that cats, dogs or other domestic animals play any role in the epidemiology of human infections with SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, the significance of SARS-CoV-2 as a feline or canine pathogen is unknown as cats and dogs with reported infections usually recover and there has been no evidence of transmission occurring between cats or dogs in the field."