Treatment of active lupus nephritis with the novel immunosuppressant 15-deoxyspergualin: an open-label dose escalation study
Wilhelm H. Schmitt
Ingeborg A. Hauser
Peter A. Heinzel
- Introduction: As the immunosuppressive potency of 15-deoxyspergualin (DSG) has been shown in the therapy of renal transplant rejection and Wegener's granulomatosis, the intention of this study was to evaluate the safety of DSG in the therapy of lupus nephritis (LN). Methods: Patients with histologically proven active LN after prior treatment with at least one immunosuppressant were treated with 0.5 mg/kg normal body weight/day DSG, injected subcutaneously for 14 days, followed by a break of one week. These cycles were repeated to a maximum of 9 times. Doses of oral corticosteroids were gradually reduced to 7.5 mg/day or lower by cycle 4. Response was measured according to a predefined decision pattern. The dose of DSG was adjusted depending on the efficacy and side effects. Results: 21 patients were included in this phase-I/II study. After the first DSG injection, one patient was excluded from the study due to renal failure. 5 patients dropped out due to adverse events or serious adverse events including fever, leukopenia, oral candidiasis, herpes zoster or pneumonia. 11/20 patients achieved partial (4) or complete responses (7), 8 were judged as treatment failures and one patient was not assessable. 12 patients completed all 9 cycles; in those patients, proteinuria decreased from 5.88g/day to 3.37g/day (P = 0.028), Selena-SLEDAI decreased from 17.6 to 11.7. In 13/20 patients, proteinuria decreased by at least 50%; in 7 patients to less than 1g/day. Conclusions: Although the number of patients was small, we could demonstrate that DSG provides a tolerably safe treatment for LN. The improvement in proteinuria encourages larger controlled trials.
Phoneme and sentence-level ensembles for speech recognition
- We address the question of whether and how boosting and bagging can be used for speech recognition. In order to do this, we compare two different boosting schemes, one at the phoneme level and one at the utterance level, with a phoneme-level bagging scheme. We control for many parameters and other choices, such as the state inference scheme used. In an unbiased experiment, we clearly show that the gain of boosting methods compared to a single hidden Markov model is in all cases only marginal, while bagging significantly outperforms all other methods. We thus conclude that bagging methods, which have so far been overlooked in favour of boosting, should be examined more closely as a potentially useful ensemble learning technique for speech recognition.
Timescales of multineuronal activity patterns reflect temporal structure of visual stimuli
Ovidiu Florin Jurjut
Martha Nari Havenith
Raul C. Mureşan
- The investigation of distributed coding across multiple neurons in the cortex remains to this date a challenge. Our current understanding of collective encoding of information and the relevant timescales is still limited. Most results are restricted to disparate timescales, focused on either very fast, e.g., spike-synchrony, or slow timescales, e.g., firing rate. Here, we investigated systematically multineuronal activity patterns evolving on different timescales, spanning the whole range from spike-synchrony to mean firing rate. Using multi-electrode recordings from cat visual cortex, we show that cortical responses can be described as trajectories in a high-dimensional pattern space. Patterns evolve on a continuum of coexisting timescales that strongly relate to the temporal properties of stimuli. Timescales consistent with the time constants of neuronal membranes and fast synaptic transmission (5–20 ms) play a particularly salient role in encoding a large amount of stimulus-related information. Thus, to faithfully encode the properties of visual stimuli the brain engages multiple neurons into activity patterns evolving on multiple timescales.
Transnational justice and democracy
- The title I have chosen seems to signal a tension, even a contradiction, in a number of respects. Democracy appears to be a form of political organisation and government in which, through general and public participatory procedures, a sufficiently legitimate political will is formed which acquires the force of law. Justice, by contrast, appears to be a value external to this context which is not so much linked to procedures of “input” or “throughput” legitimation but is understood instead as an output- or outcome-oriented concept. At times, justice is even understood as an otherworldly idea which, when transported into the Platonic cave, merely causes trouble and ends up as an undemocratic elite project. In methodological terms, too, this difference is sometimes signalled in terms of a contrast between a form of “worldly” political thought and “abstract” and otherworldly philosophical reflection on justice. In my view, we are bound to talk past the issues to be discussed under the heading “transnational justice and democracy” unless we first root out false dichotomies such as the ones mentioned. My thesis will be that justice must be “secularised” or “grounded” both with regard to how we understand it and to its application to relations beyond the state.
Population dynamics and genetic changes of Picea abies in the South Carpathians revealed by pollen and ancient DNA analyses
Enikö K. Magyari
- Background: Studies on allele length polymorphism designate several glacial refugia for Norway spruce (Picea abies) in the South Carpathian Mountains, but infer only limited expansion from these refugia after the last glaciation. To better understand the genetic dynamics of a South Carpathian spruce lineage, we compared ancient DNA from 10,700 and 11,000-year-old spruce pollen and macrofossils retrieved from Holocene lake sediment in the Retezat Mountains with DNA extracted from extant material from the same site. We used eight primer pairs that amplified short and variable regions of the spruce cpDNA. In addition, from the same lake sediment we obtained a 15,000-years-long pollen accumulation rate (PAR) record for spruce that helped us to infer changes in population size at this site. Results: We obtained successful amplifications for Norway spruce from 17 out of 462 pollen grains tested, while the macrofossil material provided 22 DNA sequences. Two fossil sequences were found to be unique to the ancient material. Population genetic statistics showed higher genetic diversity in the ancient individuals compared to the extant ones. Similarly, statistically significant Ks and Kst values showed a considerable level of differentiation between extant and ancient populations at the same loci. Lateglacial and Holocene PAR values suggested that population size of the ancient population was small, in the range of 1/10 or 1/5 of the extant population. PAR analysis also detected two periods of rapid population growths (from ca. 11,100 and 3900 calibrated years before present (cal yr BP)) and three bottlenecks (around 9180, 7200 and 2200 cal yr BP), likely triggered by climatic change and human impact. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the paternal lineages observed today in the Retezat Mountains persisted at this site at least since the early Holocene. Combination of the results from the genetic and the PAR analyses furthermore suggests that the higher level of genetic variation found in the ancient populations and the loss of ancient allele types detected in the extant individuals were likely due to the repeated bottlenecks during the Holocene. This study demonstrates how past population size changes inferred from PAR records can be efficiently used in combination with ancient DNA studies. The joint application of palaeoecological and population genetic analyses proved to be a powerful tool to understand the influence of past population demographic changes on the haplotype diversity and genetic composition of forest tree species.
Heavy quarks and charmonium at RHIC and LHC within a partonic transport model
- Heavy quark and charmonium production as well as their space-time evolution are studied in transport simulations of heavy-ion collisions at RHIC and LHC. In the partonic transport model Boltzmann Approach of MultiParton Scatterings (BAMPS) heavy quarks can be produced in initial hard parton scatterings or during the evolution of the quark-gluon plasma. Subsequently, they interact with the medium via binary scatterings with a running coupling and a more precise Debye screening which is derived from hard thermal loop calculations, participate in the flow and lose energy. We present results of the elliptic flow and nuclear modification factor of heavy quarks and compare them to available data. Furthermore, preliminary results on J/psi suppression at forward and mid-rapidity are reported for central and non-central collisions at RHIC. For this, we study cold nuclear matter effects and the dissociation as well as regeneration of J/psi in the quark-gluon plasma. XLIX International Winter Meeting on Nuclear Physics 24-28 January 2011 BORMIO, Italy
On the role of the liquidity premium in the regulation of insurers
- Prepared by Christian Laux, Vienna University of Economics and Business & Center for Financial Studies (CFS) for the “Workshop on Liquidity Premium in Solvency II: Conceptual and Measurement Issues,” DNB Amsterdam, March 18, 2011. The insurance industry and the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors (CEIOPS) propose to add a liquidity premium to the risk-free rate when discounting liabilities in times of financial turmoil. The objective is to counterbalance adverse effects on regulatory capital due to a decrease in asset values caused by illiquidity in a crisis. As I argue in this note, although the motive might be sensible, the proposal to add a liquidity premium when discounting liabilities is not the right approach to tackle the problem.
TIM23-mediated insertion of transmembrane alpha-helices into the mitochondrial inner membrane
Salomé Calado Botelho
Andreas S. Reichert
Gunnar von Heijne
- While overall hydrophobicity is generally recognized as the main characteristic of transmembrane (TM) alpha-helices, the only membrane system for which there are detailed quantitative data on how different amino acids contribute to the overall efficiency of membrane insertion is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of eukaryotic cells. Here, we provide comparable data for TIM23-mediated membrane protein insertion into the inner mitochondrial membrane of yeast cells. We find that hydrophobicity and the location of polar and aromatic residues are strong determinants of membrane insertion. These results parallel what has been found previously for the ER. However, we see striking differences between the effects elicited by charged residues flanking the TM segments when comparing the mitochondrial inner membrane and the ER, pointing to an unanticipated difference between the two insertion systems. Keywords: CoxVa , membrane protein , Mgm1p , mitochondria , TIM23
The glyoxalase system as an example of a cellular maintenance pathway with relevance to aging
- Commentary on: Scheckhuber CQ et al. Modulation of the glyoxalase system in the aging model Podospora anserina: effects on growth and lifespan. Aging. 2010; 2:969-980.
Hybrid approaches to heavy ion collisions and future perspectives
- We present the current status of hybrid approaches to describe heavy ion collisions and their future challenges and perspectives. First we present a hybrid model combining a Boltzmann transport model of hadronic degrees of freedom in the initial and final state with an optional hydrodynamic evolution during the dense and hot phase. Second, we present a recent extension of the hydrodynamical model to include fluctuations near the phase transition by coupling a chiral field to the hydrodynamic evolution.