The fair of equipment for hotels, apartments, restaurants and catering facilities HoReCa Adria will be held from Thursday, 10.11. to Saturday, 12.11. in Opatija, in the Marino Cvetković Sports Hall. More than 70 exhibitors from Croatia and abroad will present over 5.000 products and services, of which we single out 15 presentations of the latest equipment on the Croatian market, with a rich accompanying program of lectures and educationThe key autumn term from November 10 to 12, when the impressions from last season are still fresh, is a great opportunity for all employees in tourism to get acquainted with new market trends and plan investments in facilities, in order to achieve even better tourist results next season. .HoReCa Adria is the first such fair in the Kvarner area, and the excellent response of visitors at last year’s edition of the fair is the best proof that this is exactly the kind of event the Kvarner region lacked, but also much wider. An even larger number of exhibitors has been announced for this year, more than 70 of them from Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Serbia, who will present the full range of equipment and services for entrepreneurs in tourism in Opatija.More information about the HoReCa Adria fair can be found at official websites
Share on Facebook Share Pinterest Email Share on Twitter Child maltreatment could predict a range of negative outcomes in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), according to new King’s College London research, which adds to growing evidence on the enduring mental health impact of childhood abuse and neglect.A meta-analysis of 30 studies found that bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment developed BD more than four years earlier than patients with no history of maltreatment. In addition, they were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide and nearly four times more likely to have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).One in every 25 adults will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their life. The disorder is characterised by periods or episodes of feeling very low and lethargic (depression) or of feeling very high and overactive (mania). Bipolar disorder carries the highest risk of suicide among affective disorders: up to 15 per cent of people with bipolar disorder die by suicide. However, not all bipolar patients have these particularly severe outcomes, and there is wide variability in clinical presentation. Therefore, it is important to identify bipolar patients with the greatest clinical need and risk as early as possible, in order to ensure that they receive the most timely and effective interventions to reduce their risk of poor outcomes.Maltreatment in the form of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, or neglect, affects one in five children under 18 in the UK and is known to be highly prevalent in bipolar patients (up to 60 percent). Maltreatment predicts negative outcomes in depressed patients, but it was previously unclear if information on maltreatment could help identify early those bipolar patients with greater clinical needs and risk.The study, published today in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that bipolar patients with a history of childhood maltreatment had more severe manic, depressive and psychotic symptoms; higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and substance and alcohol misuse disorders; earlier onset of symptoms; more frequent manic and depressive episodes; and higher risk of suicide attempt.Dr Jessica Agnew-Blais, Post-doctoral Researcher from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and lead author of the study, said: ‘These findings lend support to the notion that maltreatment can affect neurobiological processes associated with progression of the disorder.‘Our findings have important implications for clinical practice, as they suggest that a history of childhood maltreatment could be used as an early indicator of high risk for poor outcomes among individuals with bipolar disorder. This information could be valuable for identifying patients with bipolar disorder who may benefit from greater support and treatment.’Dr Andrea Danese, Senior Lecturer from the IoPPN at King’s College London and senior author of the study, said: ‘Future research should identify mechanisms that link childhood maltreatment to unfavourable clinical outcomes in BD, which is associated with disability and life-threatening risks.‘We hope this study will point to vulnerabilities that could inform innovative treatment strategies for people with BD, including anti-inflammatory medications or treatments aimed at trauma and anxiety-related symptoms.’Dr Danese added: ‘Further studies are also needed to assess whether childhood maltreatment predicts treatment response among patients with BD, as has been suggested by early research in this area.’ LinkedIn
All three experiments used a procedure called the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) to gauge implicit bias. The IAT measures differences in reaction time (gauged in fractions of seconds) taken to categorize faces (in this case, Black or White) into groups depending on whether they are paired with positive or negative sets of words. Typically, it takes slightly longer to categorize faces when a negatively stereotyped group is paired with pleasant words, or when a positively stereotyped group is identified with unpleasant ones.In the first experiment, 146 White, Asian, and Latino undergraduate college students took an IAT with two different conditions. In the first, faces were identified only as Black or White. In the second, the same faces were identified as Black or White students attending the same college as the participants. Participants showed less implicit anti-Black bias in the second condition, in which they saw themselves as sharing membership in an important and positively-valued group with the Black people pictured.The second experiment, which included 112 students, had the same basic design as the first, but added a third condition identifying faces as Black or White firefighters. Describing Black individuals as members of this positively perceived group to which the participants did not belong did not reduce implicit anti-Black bias. This appears to indicate that it was perceiving Black individuals as members of a shared ingroup, rather than simply seeing them as members of a positively valued group, that changed prejudiced responses in the first experiment.The third experiment, including 141 students, was similar to the first except that instead of pleasant and unpleasant words, participants had to identify the logo of their own college or that of a rival. Participants were more readily able to categorize ingroup Black faces paired with their own logo (a symbol of ingroup membership), indicating that they formed a direct implicit association between Black faces and the ingroup under the right conditions.“This research provides the first evidence of how and why categorization in terms of shared group memberships can reduce implicit bias,” Scroggins and his colleagues said.The study authors conclude that their results might be used to develop interventions that help to reduce racial bias by identifying and highlighting shared ingroup categories between potentially biased individuals and the targets of that bias. They suggest that these techniques could one day be used to reduce inequalities in medical care employment that arise due to subtle but pervasive implicit biases on the part of health care providers and job interviewers.Even fatal shootings of unarmed Black suspects might one day be reduced simply by finding ways of reminding White police officers of the group ties they may share with one another. Email Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Racially biased judgments can be effectively reduced by changing the way that people think about group memberships they share with those against whom they are biased, according to a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.A wealth of research has shown that biased judgments about members of racial minority groups often happen as an automatic reaction occurring within a fraction of a second. Prejudiced reactions that occur in this way are known as implicit biases. Because these reactions occur without thinking, people who hold them often do not think of themselves as being prejudiced. This makes implicit biases particularly difficult to eliminate, raising questions about how to make enduring social change possible.A team of psychologists led by W. Anthony Scroggins, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, conducted a series of three experiments to investigate one potential approach to changing these biases. Research shows that, in addition to implicit negative biases against members of stigmatized groups (or “outgroups”), people also have implicit positive biases towards groups to which they themselves belong (or “ingroups”). The authors of this study examined whether these positive ingroup biases could erase the impact of negative outgroup bias on implicit prejudice. Pinterest LinkedIn
Pinterest Share on Twitter Memories formed in one part of the brain are replayed and transferred to a different area of the brain during rest, according to a new UCL study in rats.The finding suggests that replay of previous experiences during rest is important for memory consolidation, a process whereby the brain stabilises and preserves memories for quick recall in the future. Understanding the physiological mechanism of this is essential for tackling amnesiac conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, where memory consolidation is affected.Lead researcher, Dr Freyja Ólafsdóttir (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), said: “We want to understand how a healthy brain stores and accesses memories as this will give us a window into how conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease disrupt the process. We know people with Alzheimer’s have difficulty recalling the recent past but can often readily remember childhood memories, which seem more resilient. The parts of the brain we studied are some of the first regions affected in Alzheimer’s and now we know they are also involved in memory consolidation.” Share Share on Facebook LinkedIn Email The study, published today in Nature Neuroscience and funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society, investigated the role of sleep in memory consolidation by simultaneously studying two areas of the brain as the rats rested following activity.Six rats each ran for 30 minutes on a six metre long track before resting for 90 minutes. During rest, the team studied the responses of place cells in the hippocampus, where memories are formed, and grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, where the memories were found to transfer to.The response of the place cells showed that the rats re-ran the track in their minds as they rested but did so at speeds 10-20 times faster than they experienced in reality. The same replay happened almost simultaneously, with a 10 millisecond delay, in grid cells located in a different part of the brain, suggesting that the rats’ memories transferred from one part of the brain to another.Study supervisor, Dr Caswell Barry (UCL Cell & Developmental Biology), said: “This is the first time we’ve seen coordinated replay between two areas of the brain known to be important for memory, suggesting a filing of memories from one area to another. The hippocampus constantly absorbs information but it seems it can’t store everything so replays the important memories for long term storage and transfers them to the entorhinal cortex, and possibly on to other areas of the brain, for safe-keeping and easy access.”The scientists plan to investigate memory transfer to other areas of the brain and replay in rats with Alzheimer’s disease to better understand the memory consolidation mechanism and the link between quality of sleep and amnesiac conditions.
Share on Facebook Notably, the study found that different people share similar language maps.“The similarity in semantic topography across different subjects is really surprising,” said study lead author Alex Huth, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UC Berkeley.When spoken words failDetailed maps showing how the brain organizes different words by their meanings could eventually help give voice to those who cannot speak, such as people who have had a stroke, brain damage or motor neuron diseases such as ALS. While mind-reading technology remains far off on the horizon, charting language organization in the brain brings decoding inner dialogue a step closer to reality, the researchers said.“This discovery paves the way for brain-machine interfaces that can interpret the meaning of what people want to express,” Huth said. “Imagine a brain-machine interface that doesn’t just figure out what sounds you want to make, but what you want to say.”For example, clinicians could track the brain activity of patients who have difficulty communicating and then match that data to semantic language maps to determine what their patients are trying to express. Another potential application is a decoder that translates what you say into another language as you speak.“To be able to map out semantic representations at this level of detail is a stunning accomplishment,” said Kenneth Whang, a program director in the NSF Information and Intelligent Systems division. “In addition, they are showing how data-driven computational methods can help us understand the brain at the level of richness and complexity that we associate with human cognitive processes.”Huth and six other native English speakers participated in the experiment, which required volunteers to remain still inside a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanner for hours at a time.Each study participant’s brain blood flow was measured as they listened, with eyes closed and headphones on, to more than two hours of stories from The Moth Radio Hour, a public radio show in which people recount humorous and poignant autobiographical experiences.The participants’ brain imaging data were then matched against time-coded, phonemic transcriptions of the stories. Phonemes are units of sound that distinguish one word from another.The researchers then fed that information into a word-embedding algorithm that scored words according to how closely they are related semantically.Charting language across the brainThe results were converted into a thesaurus-like map that arranged words on images of the flattened cortices of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Words were grouped under various headings: visual, tactile, numeric, locational, abstract, temporal, professional, violent, communal, mental, emotional and social.Not surprisingly, the maps show that many areas of the human brain represent language that describes people and social relations, rather than abstract concepts.“Our semantic models are good at predicting responses to language in several big swaths of cortex,” Huth said. “But we also get the fine-grained information that tells us what kind of information is represented in each brain area. That’s why these maps are so exciting and hold so much potential.”Senior author Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist, said that although the maps are broadly consistent across individuals, “There are also substantial individual differences. We will need to conduct further studies across a larger, more diverse sample of people before we will be able to map these individual differences in detail.” Share Email LinkedIn What if a map of the brain could help us decode people’s inner thoughts?Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have taken a step in that direction by building a “semantic atlas” that shows in vivid colors and multiple dimensions how the human brain organizes language. The atlas identifies brain areas that respond to words that have similar meanings.The findings, published in the journal Nature and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), are based on a brain imaging study that recorded neural activity while study volunteers listened to stories from “The Moth Radio Hour.” They show that at least 1/3 of the brain’s cerebral cortex — including areas dedicated to high-level cognition — is involved in language processing. Pinterest Share on Twitter
“Quality of life after chemotherapy is critically important, and chemobrain is significant in these survivors,” Helferich said.Patient complaints and clinical observations after chemotherapy spurred an interest in chemobrain. While many researchers have examined these effects in humans as well as animals, most such studies do not assess long-term effects. The physical toll of chemotherapy is great and accounts for the short-term cognitive impairments, Rhodes said.“The question is, after they completely recover from the acute assault of chemotherapy, many months or years later, do they still have cognitive impairments?” he said.Drugs can be developed to address these cognitive impairments, but side effects and negative interactions of these drugs with the chemotherapy medications could cause patients to suffer even more, Rhodes said. The researchers hope to find nonpharmaceutical interventions that are widely available and have fewer complications.“A dietary intervention that could improve cognitive function after chemotherapy could benefit a lot of cancer patients,” Rendeiro said.The researchers used female mice bred to mimic post-menopausal women, the group most affected by breast cancer.“We wanted a model that represents the human population so we have the best chance of having results that translate to humans,” Rhodes said.The team’s first goal was to confirm that chemobrain was a long-lasting phenomenon. They assessed the long-term effects of chemotherapy on learning and memory, as well as the formation of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region known to contribute to those abilities.“We need to have good animal models of these long-term cognitive problems following chemotherapy to understand what is going on and how to treat it,” Rendeiro said.The researchers tested learning and memory using the Morris Water Maze, which trains mice to find a hidden platform in a maze. The mice that had received the chemotherapy regimen took longer to find the platform and were slower to learn the task compared with the control group. The chemotherapy group also had 26 percent fewer surviving hippocampal neurons born during the chemotherapy treatment and generated 14 percent fewer hippocampal neurons in the three months following chemotherapy. Three months for a mouse corresponds to about ten human years, Rhodes said. Together, these results show long-term detriments to both the brain and behavior of the chemotherapy-treated mice.The researchers also were interested in the efficacy of a diet enhanced with omega-3 fatty acids in reversing these cognitive impairments. However, they found no beneficial effect of the supplemented diet on mitigating chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairments.This study provides one of the first animal models to demonstrate the long-term cognitive deficits resulting from a chemotherapeutic treatment used in treating humans for breast cancer. Although the omega-3 diet did not improve cognitive outcomes in the mice, the researchers expect their model will be useful for studying alternative lifestyle interventions to ameliorate the chemobrain phenomenon. LinkedIn Pinterest Share on Twitter Share Email Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer have long complained of lingering cognitive impairments after treatment. These effects are referred to as “chemobrain,” a feeling of mental fogginess. A new study from the University of Illinois reports long-lasting cognitive impairments in mice when they are administered a chemotherapy regimen used to treat breast cancer in humans.The results are published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.“Cancer survival rates have increased substantially and continue to improve due to both earlier detection and better medical treatments,” said Catarina Rendeiro, a postdoctoral scholar at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The study’s lead author, Rendeiro collaborated with an interdisciplinary group at Illinois, including Justin Rhodes, a professor of psychology and a Beckman Institute affiliate; and William Helferich, a professor of nutrition in the department of food science and human nutrition. Share on Facebook
Share on Facebook LinkedIn Mathematical modeling of the brain scans of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and others at risk for the devastating neurodegenerative disorder has identified specific patterns of brain atrophy that appear to be related to the loss of particular cognitive abilities. In their report that has been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the National University of Singapore describe how different atrophy patterns may explain the different ways that Alzheimer’s disease can be manifested in individual patients.“The symptom severity and neurodegeneration can vary widely across patients in Alzheimer’s disease,” says Thomas Yeo, PhD, of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH. “Our work shows that participants in this study exhibit at least three atrophy patterns – cortical, temporal or subcortical – that are associated with variability in cognitive decline not only in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but also in individuals with mild cognitive impairment or those who are cognitively normal but are at risk for Alzheimer’s.” In addition to his affiliation with the Martinos Center, Yeo is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clinical Imaging Research Centre and Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology at the National University of Singapore.The study analyzed data collected as part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), a multi-institutional project to develop biomarkers – including blood tests, cerebrospinal fluid tests, and imaging studies – that can be used for diagnosis or in clinical trials. Yeo and his team – including investigators at the MGH and in Singapore – analyzed MR images taken of the brains of 378 ADNI participants when they enrolled in the study. Of these participants, 188 had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; the others – 147 with mild cognitive impairment and 43 who were cognitively normal – were at increased risk based on levels in their brains of the beta-amyloid plaques that are characteristic of the disease. Share Pinterest Share on Twitter Email As a first step, the research team analyzed data from the baseline structural MRIs using a mathematical model that estimated the probability that particular details of each image were associated with atrophy of a specific location within the brain. Based on the location of atrophy factors, they determined three atrophy factor patterns: cortical – representing atrophy in most of the cerebral cortex; temporal – indicating atrophy in the temporal cortex (the cortical lobe behind the ears), hippocampus and amygdala; and subcortical, indicating atrophy in the cerebellum, striatum and thalamus, structures at the base of the brain.Analysis of study participant scans taken two years later indicated that atrophy factor patterns were persistent in individuals and did not reflect different stages of disease. Most participants – including those in the mild cognitive impairment and cognitively normal groups – showed levels of more than one atrophy factor.Behavioral and cognitive tests of study participants taken at six-month intervals indicated associations between particular atrophy factor patterns and specific cognitive deficits. Individuals in whom temporal atrophy predominated had greater problems with memory, while cortical atrophy was associated with difficulties with executive function – the ability to plan and to accomplish goals. Individual differences in how atrophy factors are distributed within the brain may allow prediction of the rate at which cognitive abilities would be expected to decline.“Most previous studies focused on patients already diagnosed, but we were able to establish distinct atrophy patterns not only in diagnosed patients but also in at-risk participants who had mild impairment or were cognitively normal at the outset of the study,” Yeo says. “That is important because the neurodegenerative cascade that leads to Alzheimer’s starts years, possibly decades, before diagnosis. So understanding different atrophy patterns among at-risk individuals is quite valuable.He adds, “Previous studies assumed that an individual can only express a single neurodegenerative pattern, which is highly restrictive since in any aged person there could be multiple pathological factors going on at the same time – such as vascular impairment along with the amyloid plaques and tau tangles that are directly associated with Alzheimer’s. So individuals who are affected by multiple, co-existing pathologies might be expected to exhibit multiple atrophy patterns.”Future research could further determine whether and how these atrophy patterns relate to the distribution of amyloid and tau and the mechanisms by which they affect specific cognitive abilities, Yeo explains. The same analytic approach also could be applied to other types of patient data and extended to other neurodegenerative disorder that produce varying symptom patterns, such as Parkinson’s disease and autism.
LinkedIn Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook New research published in the European Journal of Personality has found that some personality traits are connected to how long and how well people sleep.“Sleep is very dynamic and biologically regulated, yet is also a personal characteristics,” said study author Zlatan Krizan, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University.“Uncovering which personality features predict the nature and rhythm of our sleep is important from a theoretical perspective as well as clinical. Plus I have to admit that my life-long insomnia motivated me find what sleep may show about who we are.” Email Pinterest The researchers analyzed data from 382 individuals who participated in the Midlife Development in the U.S. Study. The study included two initial assessments of basic personality traits. A few years later, the participants wore actigraph sleep monitoring devices and provided daily evaluations of their sleep quality for one week.The findings indicated that two of the Big Five personality traits were related to sleep quality. The researchers found that more neurotic and less conscientious individuals tended to have more disturbances during their sleep. More neurotic individuals also tended to have greater variability in how long they slept.“How a person sleeps is partially reflective of their personality constitution. For example, individuals more prone to negative emotions and difficulties with self-control had more variable sleep from one night to the next, which may point to important everyday routines (or the lack thereof) that could be producing such ups and downs,” Krizan told PsyPost.“One cannot change one’s personality just like that, but can identify ways in which to get out of one’s own way!”The study — like all research — includes some limitations. The study relied on cross-sectional data, making it difficult to determine the direction of causality. In other words, it is unclear whether personality impacts sleep or whether sleep impacts personality.“Exactly how personality intersects with sleep is still relatively unknown,” Krizan said. “Most research is based on questionnaires, so more studies like this one where more objective methods are used, as well as where real-life sleep is sampled are necessary to further our understanding.”“Moreover, personality is likely to matter for the makeup of the sleep episode themselves, so leveraging modern sleep-monitoring technology will be critical.”The study, “Personality and Sleep: Neuroticism and Conscientiousness Predict Behaviourally Recorded Sleep Years Later“, was authored by Zlatan Križan and Garrett Hisler.
Email People with polarized political views can be led to endorse more centrist attitudes after being provided with false feedback about their responses to a political survey. This finding comes from a study published in PLOS One.Evidence suggests that the American political scene is becoming increasingly polarized, a trend that threatens to lead political discussions away from critical thinking and open-mindedness.“For example,” study authors Thomas Strandberg and colleagues say, “people tend to automatically support policy issues proposed by their own party and reject those coming from the opposition.” Furthermore, studies suggest that political polarization can lead to increased animosity between supporters of opposing parties, and can even go as far as affecting personal relationships among family members. Share on Facebook Pinterest Share LinkedIn Strandberg and associates wanted to see if it was possible to sway people into endorsing more flexible attitudes towards politics, using an experimental manipulation called a choice blindness paradigm. The researchers describe choice blindness as a “cognitive phenomenon that occurs when people receive false feedback about a choice they had made, leading them to accept the outcome as their own and confabulate reasons for having made that choice in the first place.”Two experimental studies were conducted among American voters prior to the 2016 presidential election. Study 1 involved 122 New Yorkers, of an average of 21 years of age, and Study 2 involved a more representative sample of 498 Americans, of an average of 31 years of age.In both studies, participants answered a questionnaire where they rated presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump along 12 leadership traits (e.g., diplomatic, experienced) using a visual analog scale with the candidates’ faces pictured at opposite ends of the scale. “We asked participants to rate the candidates on each trait; for example, if they thought Clinton was more analytic, they would mark that scale closer to her, or if they thought Trump was, they would mark it closer to him,” the authors explain.After subjects completed the survey, their most polarized responses were covertly adjusted towards the middle of the scale, to represent a more moderate viewpoint. For example, a subject who had marked ‘experienced’ as 94% on the Clinton side, had this response covertly moved to a more neutral position on the scale, at around 59%. Next, the subjects were asked to look over their completed — and unknowingly altered — surveys and were given the opportunity to revise their answers.In Study 1, subjects were directly questioned about three of the manipulated responses, and, overall, only 28% of them corrected one of these altered responses. Only 4% corrected two responses, and no one corrected more than two. Additionally, many participants gave detailed justifications for these manipulated responses. As the researchers report, “When asked to explain their responses, 94% accepted the manipulated responses as their own and rationalized this neutral position accordingly, even though they reported more polarized views moments earlier.”In Study 2, similar findings were revealed. When participants were given the opportunity to revisit their responses, on average, participants corrected about 2 out of 5 manipulated responses. There were no significant differences in the number of corrections made by Trump or Clinton supporters, suggesting that both Republican and Democrat voters are equally susceptible to false feedback and just as easily manipulated into endorsing a more open-minded viewpoint.“Our study reveals that American voters at either end of the political spectrum are willing to endorse more open views about both candidates with surprisingly little intervention. Here, suggesting to people that they are more open-minded removed their political blinders and nudged them to consider and argue for more moderate views,” Strandberg and colleagues say.The researchers further suggest that their study demonstrates the potential for a more open political landscape in the US. “These results offer hope in a divided political climate: even polarized people can become—at least momentarily—open to opposing views.”The study, “Depolarizing American voters: Democrats and Republicans are equally susceptible to false attitude feedback”, was authored by Thomas Strandberg, Jay A. Olson, Lars Hall, Andy Woods, and Petter Johansson.(Photo credit: Susan Melkisethian) Share on Twitter
May 2, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – The most detailed genetic analysis so far of H7N9 viruses that have infected humans in China shed more light on how the virus may have emerged—a complex set of events that could have involved mixing between wild and domestic ducks and reassortment in poultry.In analyzing the family tree of H7N9 and related viruses Chinese researchers also found a long branch between the new virus and avian influenza viruses from wild birds, suggesting that an intermediate host might exist. The study appeared yesterday in an early online edition of The Lancet.The group used H7N9 genetic sequences from the GISAID database that are linked to the first four human isolates. Using sophisticated analysis tools, they compared the H7N9 sequences with public ones from the Influenza Virus Resource, a flu sequence data source and tool. They used leading-edge techniques to estimate the phylogenies, divergence times, and other evolutionary information for all eight gene segments.The researchers pointed out that their analysis lacks extensive surveillance data, partly because H7 virus subtypes have low pathogenicity for avian hosts, which can harbor the virus for long periods without showing symptoms. However, the team wrote that the study includes most publicly available related sequences.The new virus fell within the Eurasian H7 lineage and was most closely related to sequences from ducks in Zhejiang province in 2011, and the team estimated that the most recent common ancestor of the H7N9 virus was in January 2012.Similarly, their analysis of the N9 phylogenetic tree found the H7N9 virus belongs to the Eurasian lineage. It was closely related to H7N9 viruses from wild ducks in South Korea in February and April of 2011. At that time, the wild ducks were colonized for breeding in southeast China during their northward migration along the East Asian flyway.The six internal genes of the H7N9 virus clustered with H9N2 viruses from China from at least two different origins: one for the NS gene and one for the rest of the internal genes. The most closely related ones were all from one strain, a virus collected from a brambling in Beijing in November 2012. The group’s phylogenetic analysis also found that the H7N9 polymerase gene fell within a clade of chicken H9N2 viruses from near Shanghai in 2012 and Zhejiang province in 2011.The new virus could have at least four possible genetic origins, which is more than an early analysis of the virus proposed, the group wrote.The NA gene of H7N9 might have traveled from Europe through bird migration and could have been carried by wild birds. The team said a likely scenario is that wild ducks transferred the viruses to domestic ducks, which share similar behaviors and habitats in eastern China. The ducks could have obtained the HA and NA genes from migratory birds sequentially and simultaneously, such as when large colonies of mixed wild ducks winter in southeast China.The group noted that a long branch between the new H7N9 virus and those from wild birds raises the possibility of an intermediate host, which touches on a question that flu experts are still puzzling over. Though investigations of human cases have found a link to market poultry and environments, little is known about how the market birds are becoming infected.Taken together, the group wrote that the evidence so far suggests that new H7N9 virus emerged from an HA gene that was circulating in the East Asian flyway in wild birds and ducks, from an NA gene that was introduced from a European lineage early and transferred from migrating wild birds, and from H9N2 viruses in eastern China’s chickens and ducks that possibly reassorted with H7 and N9 viruses in ducks.”After these reassortment events, the new viruses started to circulate in chickens, with low pathogenicity,” they wrote, adding that the reassortment events probably occurred in Shanghai and nearby provinces.The time to the most recent common ancestor for the gene segments, as well as frequent poultry transportation, might have played a role in the increasing sporadic detections of the H7N9 virus in humans, according to the report.The diversity that they found in the isolates suggests H7N9 has evolved into at least two lineages, with the possibility of unknown intermediate hosts, pointing to a need for heightened global surveillance in animals and humans, they wrote.Liu D, Shi W, Shi Y, et al. Origin and diversity of novel avian influenza A H7N9 viruses and causing human infection: phylogenetic, structural, and coalescent analyses. Lancet 2013 May 1 [Abstract]