Month: January 2019

A new cure for river blindness and elephantiasis

Lymphatic filariasis patient (Copyright: Mark Taylor, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) Onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that cause severe disability and affect more than 106 million people, according to the latest reports from WHO. These two NTDs are caused by parasitic roundworms, the filarial nematodes Onchocerca volvulus (onchocerciasis), Wuchereria  bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and Brugia timori (lymphatic filariasis). These diseases have long-term chronic impacts on the health and wellbeing of endemic communities, including economic burden, disabilities, mental health issues and social stigmas. Onchocerciasis patient (Copyright: Mark Taylor, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine) Global...

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Twitter’s tampered samples: Limitations of big data sampling in social media

Photo by Con Karampelas on Unsplash This blog has been cross-posted from the SpringerOpen blog Despite the many scandals surrounding social media companies and their practices of data sharing, they are still central platforms of opinion formation and public discourse. Therefore, social media data is widely analyzed in academic and applied social research. Twitter has become the de facto core data supplier for computational social science as the company provides access to its data for researchers via several interfaces. One of these – the “Sample API” – is promoted by Twitter as follows: Screenshot of the Twitter developer website,...

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Time to highlight the importance of Male Genital Schistosomiasis in Malawi

Dr Seke carrying out an ultrasonography relieving a small hydrocele As a medical doctor working in my home country of Malawi, I have seen the detrimental impact of many Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in our hospitals as well as on-the-ground in field-based clinics. NTDs comprise of 23 principally communicable diseases, prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, typically within tropical and sub-tropical environments. Over 1 billion people are affected by at least one NTD, and collectively these NTDs contribute to a substantial morbidity and disability burden globally, entrapping many in poverty. My PhD focus is on the epidemiology and pathology...

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The viral content of human genomes is more variable than we thought

There are parts of human DNA that are of viral origin: many of them were inserted into the primordial genetic material of our ancestors many millions of years ago and have been inherited by successive generations ever since. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) are by far the most common virus-derived sequences in our genome. Most HERV sequences have long been assimilated and therefore are shared by all individuals in the human population, but not all are and a few have been known to be found in only a subset of individuals. Most of these unfixed HERV elements are known to...

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Introducing BMC Materials

In recent years, science and technology have revolutionized our way of life, improving well-being and comfort for all mankind. The discovery of new materials with unique features at the macro- and nano-scales has played a significant part in this advancement. The possibility of producing materials able to perform different functions and respond to external stimuli will undoubtedly be an extremely important research area for the foreseeable future. These new materials will play a crucial role, for example in additive manufacturing, since they will be designed and structured to perform specific operations and adapt autonomously to external conditions and variables,...

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