By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDMar 18 2019Around a fourth of cancer patients under the NHS have a worryingly long wait for their treatment to begin. This is a cause for significant concern say experts. The new figures from NHS England reveal that the health service has not been meeting targets of on-time health care delivery to cancer patients for over 1,000 days. Similar figures have emerged from the A&E department performance.The figures further show that after an urgent GP referral for a cancer patients, ideally the treatment should begin within 62 days. According to recommendations at least 85 percent of the patients should be seen during this time. January figures however reveal that only 76.2 percent of the patients are seen within this time frame.According to Dr Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, “January 2019 marks five years since the 62-day cancer target was first missed and, despite the best efforts of hard working NHS staff, more than 127,000 people have been left waiting too long to start vital treatment throughout that time.” A spokeswoman from the NHS said in a statement, “More people than ever before are coming forward for cancer checks, with a quarter of a million more people getting checked for cancer this year and thousands more being treated within the two-month target. NHS England is investing an additional £10m this year to treat extra people and the NHS Long Term Plan sets out a range of ambitious measures to catch more cancers earlier, which will save thousands of lives every year.”Related StoriesTrends in colonoscopy rates not aligned with increase in early onset colorectal cancerStudy: Nearly a quarter of low-risk thyroid cancer patients receive more treatment than necessaryBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerWaiting time has not been looking good for the A&E department as well says the report. Only 84.2 percent of the patients are seen within the four hour target time. The recommended numbers of 95 percent have not been met since July 2015, says the report. An NHS spokeswoman said to this, “Despite significant increases in demand, almost a quarter of a million more people have been seen and treated within four hours in A&E this winter compared to last year. Ambulance services are responding to life threatening calls faster, with fewer ambulance handover delays at A&E, and significantly more people have got the support they needed to avoid a long stay in hospital.”The Royal College of Surgeons has issued a statement saying that 227,569 patients are kept waiting for over six months for a planned procedure. At present 4.16 million people are waiting to start on their treatment says the report. Professor Derek Alderson, president of the RCS, in a statement said, “The backlog of patients waiting to start treatment continues to grow. There are now over 100,000 more patients waiting longer than 18 weeks to start treatment when compared with the same time last year.”Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth in a statement said, “Today’s statistics will do little to allay frontline concerns that targets will be changed not on the basis of clinical consensus, but because of political pressure from Tory ministers.” He called the situation “shameful”.
Source:https://www.helsinki.fi/en/news/health-news/artificial-intelligence-identifies-key-patterns-from-video-footage-of-infant-movements Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 27 2019Subtle characteristics in the spontaneous movement of very young babies may reveal clinically important aspects of their neurodevelopment. Visual assessment of typical movement patterns (General movements, GM) by a clinical expert is known to be effective in early identification of e.g. cerebral palsy (CP).”A three month old infant shows frequently occurring stereotypical, dancing-like movements throughout the body and limbs. A noted absence of them is highly predictive of later emergence of CP,” says Sampsa Vanhatalo, professor of clinical neurophysiology, University of Helsinki.A very early identification and subsequent therapeutic intervention would be highly beneficial for alleviating the neurodevelopmental impact of CP. Currently, a child is diagnosed with CP at much later age, typically between 6 months and 2 years of age. GM analysis holds promise in early detection of CP, however, it needs special expertise that is currently obtained through international teaching courses, which effectively limits the number of doctors or therapists with the relevant skills. In addition, GM analysis in its present form is based on visual assessment, which is always subjective.”There is an urgent need for objective and automated methods. They would allow employing movement analyses at much wider scale, and make it accessible to basically most, if not all, children in the world,” says Vanhatalo.THE STICK MAN REVEALS THE ESSENTIALSResearchers at University of Helsinki and University of Pisa set out to explore the possibility that a conventional video recording of an infant lying in bed could be transformed to a quantified analysis of infant movements. They collaborated with people from an AI company based in Tampere, Neuro Event Labs, who were able to create a method for an accurate extraction of children’s movements (using a technique known as pose estimation), allowing for the construction of a simplified “stick man” (or skeleton) video.Next, the researchers gave the stick figure videos to doctors with GM expertise to see whether diagnostically crucial information was preserved in those videos.Using the stick figure videos alone, the doctors were able to assign diagnostic groups in 95% of cases, proving that the clinically essential information had been preserved.The study shows that an automated algorithm may extract clinically important movement patterns from normal video recordings. These stick figure extractions can be directly used for quantitative analyses.Related StoriesArtificial intelligence set to revolutionize the field of proteomicsAI coach feasible and useful for behavioral counseling of teens in weight-loss programMachine learning identifies bugs that spread Chagas diseaseTo demonstrate such potential, the researchers provided a proof of concept analysis where simple measures of stick figure movements showed clear differences between groups of infants with either normal or abnormal movements.Use of stick figure videos also enables world-wide sharing among research communities without privacy concerns. This has been a significant bottleneck in setting up multinational research activities within this domain.”This will finally enable a genuinely Big Data kind of development for better quantitative movement analyses in infants,” Vanhatalo states.”Since this study, we have collected larger datasets, including 3D video recordings, and we are currently developing an AI-based method for infantile motor maturity assessment. The rationale is straightforward: there is a developmental issue with the child, if the computational assessment of the motor maturity does not match with the child’s true age.”MOVEMENT ANALYSIS TELLS ABOUT NEURODEVELOPMENT AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTIONSIn addition to early CP detection, automated movement analyses have many potential applications in the assessment of infant neurological development.”We could create one kind of functional growth chart,” says Vanhatalo.Movement analyses could also be used in diverse ways to improve therapeutic decisions. Such methods could provide quantitative means to objectively measure efficacy of different therapeutic strategies; one of the global hot topics in restorative medicine.Automated movement analyses could also allow out-of-hospital screening of children to identify those that need further care, or to provide assurance of normality in cases with concern about child’s development.”Use of machine learning and artificial intelligence allows for the extraction of substantial amounts of clinically useful information from a simple home-grade video recording. The ultimate aim is to find methods that will make it possible to provide high and even quality infant healthcare everywhere in the world,” Vanhatalo summarizes.
“This would be true regardless of race or ethnicity, so we might expect to see menthol flavoring making it more difficult for everyone to quit. The fact that we didn’t find consistency across racial and ethnic groups, we think, might point to the causal role of social influences like tobacco marketing,” he added.Related StoriesTelomere shortening in adulthood is not caused by smoking, say researchersCollege affirmative action bans may increase smoking rates among minority high school studentsStudy reveals how habitual smoking may contribute to development of hypertensionBig Tobacco’s marketing efforts have included heavier advertising of menthols on billboards in predominantly African American neighborhoods, and ads in African American-centric magazines, compared to white communities and periodicals.In addition, the industry has provided philanthropic support to organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League, Giovino added.A recent study by Giovino and colleagues suggests that tobacco companies are holding onto the menthol market better than non-menthol cigarettes. “Less quitting by menthol smokers is part of the reason why,” he said.Smokers’ inaccurate perceptions of menthol cigarettes have further compounded cessation efforts, Giovino says.”Some people believe they are less dangerous, even though they are, in epidemiological studies, found to be at least as dangerous as non-mentholated cigarettes,” he said. “Menthol is a topical anesthetic that numbs the respiratory tract. People inhale them more easily, which gives the perception of safety.”The idea for the study stemmed from a conversation between Smith and study co-author Biruktawit Assefa, now with Yale University School of Public Health, who worked with Smith when she was an undergraduate intern at Yale.”We wanted to more conclusively look at whether there are racial differences in how menthol flavoring may impede smoking cessation, across studies published on the topic,” Smith said.Essentially, it’s about social injustice, said Smith, who wants to use research “to give power back to communities from which power has been taken.””It all comes down to power and who has more of it and who has less of it, and why,” Smith added. Banning menthol from tobacco products — which the study recommends — might help shift the power, he said.”Such a policy might effectively take some power away from the tobacco industry and give it back to blacks and African Americans in the U.S.,” Smith said. Source:University at BuffaloJournal reference:Smith, P.H. et al. (2019) Use of Mentholated Cigarettes and Likelihood of Smoking Cessation in the United States: A Meta-Analysis. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntz067. Much of the rationale for why menthol flavoring might impede cessation has to do with how menthol flavoring might make the nicotine in cigarettes more reinforcing.” Philip Smith, study’s lead author Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Jun 17 2019For decades, Big Tobacco has sold African American smokers on menthol-flavored cigarettes through targeted marketing campaigns. That’s among the reasons why, in the U.S., black smokers who prefer menthols are 12% less likely to quit smoking compared to non-menthol users, according to the results of a newly published study.The findings, reported today in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, underscore the role that mentholated cigarettes play in smoking cessation efforts, particularly among African American tobacco users, says the study’s lead author, Philip Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Miami University (OH).Menthol cigarettes were first sold in the 1920s. The tobacco industry began targeting African Americans in the 1940s and menthol use grew along with the belief that menthols were less dangerous, according to Gary Giovino, the study’s senior author and a professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo who has extensively studied the marketing and use of menthol cigarettes.The study — a meta-analysis of 19 studies plucked from a review of more than 400 abstracts — looks at the association between menthol use and smoking cessation.The finding that menthol flavoring was associated with less success in quitting smoking among African Americans wasn’t surprising, Smith said. The lack of association for white smokers, however, was.
Imagine waking up tomorrow in a world that doesn’t depend on oil. Explore further Provided by University of Alberta That might seem far-fetched, but as engineers and scientists come up with new ways to harness renewable energy, those new sources of energy may soon shape the way our societies function and how we live our daily lives.”We’re going to stop depending on oil long before we run out of it, so we really need to exercise our imaginations about what other futures are possible,” explains University of Alberta associate professor Sheena Wilson, who heads the Future Energy Systems energy humanities theme.”Right now we live in sprawling urban communities with long commutes—we drive everywhere. If we don’t have access to such powerful energy sources, and our lives aren’t organized around auto-mobility, the shape of our cities looks very different. We need to think about communities we’re shaping through the energy systems we’re designing.”Decentralization of energy through the development of wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal could mean that communities no longer need to be centralized. Societal power structures defined by those who presently control energy and wealth could also fundamentally change.If someone living in a remote location unconnected from the grid could have the same reliable energy as someone living in an urban centre, would people need to live together in cities at all? Possibly, but maybe for entirely different reasons.”Our communities might need to be organized in entirely new ways—around social and environmental sustainability, instead of around the easy flow of traffic and consumer goods,” said Wilson.”We can ask ourselves all sorts of questions about why we live the way we live—and if changing the way we access energy will change everything,” she added.Fuel for thoughtThe U of A cultural studies and media expert based in Campus Saint-Jean has been exploring the social aspect of the energy future for years. In 2011 she co-founded the Petrocultures Research Group to explore humanity’s next step after the oil-dominated economy. The group has generated a number of interdisciplinary projects and expanded its membership internationally. One of its research initiatives, After Oil: Explorations and Experiments in the Future of Energy, Culture and Society, explores “the social and cultural implications of oil and energy.” Sheena Wilson, principal investigator with the energy humanities theme of the U of A’s Future Energy Systems initiative, interviews engineering professor Marc Secanell, director of the Energy Systems Design Laboratory. “We’re not just hearing about the next big thing in energy third-hand—we get the chance to talk directly to Canada’s leading energy researchers,” Wilson says. Credit: Kenneth Tam Alaskan microgrids offer energy resilience and independence When the Future Energy Systems research initiative launched at the end of 2016, Wilson was asked to develop the energy humanities theme, which has brought a group of interdisciplinary humanities scholars into the program to work closely with scientists, engineers and social scientists.This approach is unique, and when the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conference came to Edmonton earlier this month, Wilson and her group were invited to make a mainstage presentation about the energy humanities’ program and how it is now imagining possible futures based on the latest energy research.”We’re not just hearing about the next big thing in energy third-hand—we get the chance to talk directly to Canada’s leading energy researchers, see what’s too new to have hit the headlines and provide input to IPCC reports and recommendations that will influence policy at all levels of government,” said Wilson.Envisioning alternative energy futuresEnergy humanities researchers across the arts faculty—including art and design, English and film studies, sociology, political science and history—are working with scientists, government, artists, activists and Indigenous communities to foster inclusive dialogue.”We’re trying to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to inform the thinking we’re all doing as we work toward other possible futures,” said Wilson.The fine arts will also play a role in imagining those futures. A seven-year Future Energy Systems project called Speculative Energy Futures—collaboratively led with art and design historian Natalie Loveless under a larger research initiative called Just Powers, for which Wilson is the research lead—will produce a large-scale, evidence-based exhibition and a series of publications to provide visual perspectives on the social and cultural impacts of energy transition.Another Just Powers visual project called iDoc has been capturing the work of Future Energy Systems on video. In addition to filming interviews and lab footage with U of A researchers, the project will include policy-makers and other players engaged with energy transition in Alberta more widely.This research will be archived for posterity by University of Alberta Libraries, and made available through open access in a range of formats on the web and in public screenings so it can inform public discussions about the possibilities and limits of energy transition and its politics.”Fifty years from now, people might be explaining to their grandkids what it was like to have their houses connected to a central power grid—or to ‘fill up’ their cars,” Wilson said. “We want them to understand why we made the decisions we did, and what we were thinking.” Citation: Understanding how society will change as we move to renewable energy sources (2018, March 30) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-03-society-renewable-energy-sources.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Here are the highlights:___MAPS: Google will use augmented reality to help guide you to your destination. When you pull up direction on Google Maps, you can look through the camera and get turn-by-turn directions while viewing the actual street. The app will also orient you and verify your position using local landmarks such as buildings and shops viewed through the camera. Google calls the technology VPS, or visual positioning system. The feature is expected this summer.___GOOGLE DUPLEX: Google’s digital assistant will call actual people at businesses to make restaurant reservations and hair appointments and check holiday hours. In two demonstrations, a realistic-sounding automated voice used pauses and “ums” and “mmm-hmms” to sound more human during interactions with people. Google says the technology is rolling out as “an experiment” in coming weeks. Google says it’s still figuring out how to be upfront and let businesses know that they are talking to a computer.___GMAIL: An autocomplete feature called “smart compose” uses artificial intelligence to suggest ways to finish sentences you start typing. For example, “I haven’t seen you” might be autocompleted to “I haven’t seen you in a while and I hope you’re doing well.” The feature will start rolling out this month. NEWS: Google is redesigning the News feature to present five stories you need to know, plus others that it thinks will be most relevant to you. For outlets with subscriptions, Google will allow you to subscribe directly through your Google account, without needing new passwords or credit card information. The feature should be available to everyone by next week.___ANDROID P: The version of Google’s Android phone software will infuse basic functions with AI smarts. The battery will adapt to how you use apps in order to conserve energy. “Adaptive brightness” will learn how bright you like your screen based on manual adjustments, instead of automatically adjusting based on the how bright it is. Apple’s latest system, iOS 11, has a similar feature. Owners of some Android phones—none from Samsung—can get an early test version now.___WELL-BEING: Android P also includes features to combat overuse. A “shush” mode automatically turns on the “Do Not Disturb” mode when you turn your phone face down on a table. And “Wind Down Mode” will fade the screen to greyscale at a designated bed time to help you disconnect before bed. ___LENS: Google’s visual assistant will be built into the camera. Just point the camera at a building or sign to get more information. Or copy text from images of menus, documents and other sources into another app on your phone. Samsung phones aren’t on the list of phones getting the feature starting next week. Samsung has its own version, Bixby Vision.___ © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks about gmail features at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Google showcased its plans for the next several months as it kicked off its annual developers’ conference Tuesday. Many of the new features center on the use of artificial intelligence to help save time. 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. Google showcases AI advances at its big conference Citation: At a glance: How new Google features tap digital smarts (2018, May 8) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-glance-google-features-digital-smarts.html Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks under a video showing singer John Legend at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Explore further ___PHOTOS: When Google recognizes a photo of someone who is one of your contacts, it can suggest sending the photo to that person. It can also convert photos to PDFs and automatically add color to black-and-white photos or make part of a color photo black and white. The changes are coming in the next few months.___GOOGLE ASSISTANT: Google’s digital assistant will get six new voices, including one based on that of singer John Legend, later this year. The voices aim to sound more natural and will include pauses that convey meaning. Google is also unveiling ways to let you issue multiple commands without having to say “Hey Google” each time. And it will reward kids who say “please,” similar to a feature Amazon is bringing to its Alexa voice assistant.