BMC Series Highlights – June 2021



The effect of COVID-19 on athletes with disabilities; treatment options for dogs with osteoarthritis; to characterize the effects of the p53 mutant on the accessibility of chromatin; understand the inequalities in access to affordable and healthy food in the United States; improved fit of reused N95 and KN95 masks through 3D printing

Study of Polish athletes with disabilities highlights impact of COVID-19 on training – BMC Research Notes

Ilgar Jafarov, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt in all areas of human life, from the impact on healthcare and the economy to education and the movement of people. The pandemic has also affected many sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics which were due to be held in 2020 but have been postponed to 2021. With regional and national lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, training programs athletes were also disturbed. To better understand the impacts on disabled athletes, Piotr Urbański from the University of Physical Education in Poznan, Poland, and his colleagues decided to survey 166 athletes who are members of the Polish Paralympic Committee or the Polish Sports Association for handicapped. The study found that athletes were strongly affected by the pandemic and while a majority reported training at home, 12% stopped training altogether. Across the group, athletes reduced their training from 9.4 hrs / wk to 5.3 hrs / wk, highlighting the impact the pandemic has had on those athletes many of whom hope to compete in the Paralympic Games in August and September of this year.

Plasma-rich platelet products may help treat bilateral hip osteoarthritis in dogs – BMC veterinary research

PvOberstein, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common disease that affects pets. In dogs, osteoarthritis typically affects the hip joint, resulting in reduced function and pain for the animals. The treatment options available are limited, with most treatments focused on relieving pain and improving joint function rather than treating the condition. Recently, there has been interest in the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) to treat musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis. Alves from the University of Evora, Portugal, and colleagues from the Portuguese National Guard set out to test the use of PRP to treat police dogs with bilateral hip osteoarthritis. After intra-articular administration of PRP, the team used a variety of scales, including the Canine Brief Pain and Canine Orthopedic Indices to measure response to treatment. Compared to a control group receiving saline treatment, dogs treated with PRP saw improvements in pain and functional scores and no additional medication was required during the study follow-up period. The team concluded that the PRP product could be a good treatment option for hip osteoarthritis in dogs.

The p53 mutant affects the accessibility of chromatin in tumor cells by direct and indirect mechanisms – BMC Cancer

Dhaka and Sabarinathan 2021 BMC Cancer CC-BY 4.0

The transcription factor p53 encoded by TP53 is a well characterized tumor suppressor and mutations in the gene sequence can affect its tumor suppressor activity. Certain mutations can also result in oncogenic gain-of-function activity. The effects of mutations on p53 binding to the genome have been well documented, but changes in chromatin accessibility have not yet been characterized. In their study, Bhavya Dhaka and Radhakrishnan Sabarinathan of the National Center for Biological Sciences, India use chromatin accessibility data from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to identify regions of the genome where chromatin accessibility is impaired in the cells. tumors with the p53 mutant. The pair identified 1,587 and 984 areas where chromatin accessibility was lost and gained, respectively, in breast cancer and 1,143 lost and 640 gained in colon cancer. Surprisingly, less than half of the sites identified contained sequence motifs for p53 binding. However, these are regions associated with other transcriptional regulators, suggesting that gain-of-function p53 mutants use both direct and indirect mechanisms to affect chromatin accessibility.

National Survey of United States Officials Provides Insight into Factors Affecting Inequalities in Access to Safe and Affordable Food – BMC Nutrition

Pixabay CC0

In recent years, inequalities in access to high-quality, affordable food in the United States have been identified. This is mainly due to the existence of food deserts – geographic regions where it is difficult to purchase affordable, high-quality food – within minority neighborhoods. Much of the research to date has focused on assessing food access and quality using directories, census data and / or geographic information systems. In their study, Sansom and Hannibal of the Texas A&M School of Public Health in the United States conducted a nationally representative survey to better understand the motivations and efforts that minority groups face to reach stores with healthy food options. Their survey of 1,612 participants found that saving money, having a good selection of foods, including organic foods, were important factors for minority populations when choosing where to buy food. . In addition, driving less was a major consideration. However, the survey found that minority groups across the United States have to drive significantly longer than their white counterparts to reach stores. Sansom and Hannibal’s study highlights the variety of issues that must be addressed to reduce inequalities.

Inexpensive 3D printing mask frames can extend the life of N95 and KN95 masks – BMC Biomedical Engineering

McAvoy et al. 2021 BMC Biomedical Engineering CC-BY 4.0

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply shortages of various forms of personal protective equipment, including N95 and KN95 respirators used by healthcare professionals. This has led to the use of masks for extended periods of time and, in some cases, to being reused after decontamination procedures. However, the reuse of these masks is hampered by the degradation of the fit of the masks. In an attempt to improve reuse, Malia McAvoy of Harvard Medical School, USA and colleagues set out to develop a mask frame for damaged and / or ill-fitting masks. Using inexpensive 3D printing, the team developed a mask frame made up of two printed side pieces connected by malleable cable ties that allowed the user to mold the frame and mask against their face. to recreate the tight fit. The frame is then held in place by a rubber band around the head. The team tested the fit on 45 volunteers with and without the mask frames on four different brands of the N95 or KN95 standard. For volunteers using masks with broken and effective straps, an average of 85% passed the fit test, suggesting that mask frames may extend mask life.


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