Search results for: Darren A. Whitaker
Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 25

Search results for: Darren A. Whitaker

25 Online Monitoring and Control of Continuous Mechanosynthesis by UV-Vis Spectrophotometry

Authors: Darren A. Whitaker, Dan Palmer, Jens Wesholowski, James Flaherty, John Mack, Ahmad B. Albadarin, Gavin Walker


Traditional mechanosynthesis has been performed by either ball milling or manual grinding. However, neither of these techniques allow the easy application of process control. The temperature may change unpredictably due to friction in the process. Hence the amount of energy transferred to the reactants is intrinsically non-uniform. Recently, it has been shown that the use of Twin-Screw extrusion (TSE) can overcome these limitations. Additionally, TSE enables a platform for continuous synthesis or manufacturing as it is an open-ended process, with feedstocks at one end and product at the other. Several materials including metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), co-crystals and small organic molecules have been produced mechanochemically using TSE. The described advantages of TSE are offset by drawbacks such as increased process complexity (a large number of process parameters) and variation in feedstock flow impacting on product quality. To handle the above-mentioned drawbacks, this study utilizes UV-Vis spectrophotometry (InSpectroX, ColVisTec) as an online tool to gain real-time information about the quality of the product. Additionally, this is combined with real-time process information in an Advanced Process Control system (PharmaMV, Perceptive Engineering) allowing full supervision and control of the TSE process. Further, by characterizing the dynamic behavior of the TSE, a model predictive controller (MPC) can be employed to ensure the process remains under control when perturbed by external disturbances. Two reactions were studied; a Knoevenagel condensation reaction of barbituric acid and vanillin and, the direct amidation of hydroquinone by ammonium acetate to form N-Acetyl-para-aminophenol (APAP) commonly known as paracetamol. Both reactions could be carried out continuously using TSE, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to confirm the percentage conversion of starting materials to product. This information was used to construct partial least squares (PLS) calibration models within the PharmaMV development system, which relates the percent conversion to product to the acquired UV-Vis spectrum. Once this was complete, the model was deployed within the PharmaMV Real-Time System to carry out automated optimization experiments to maximize the percentage conversion based on a set of process parameters in a design of experiments (DoE) style methodology. With the optimum set of process parameters established, a series of PRBS process response tests (i.e. Pseudo-Random Binary Sequences) around the optimum were conducted. The resultant dataset was used to build a statistical model and associated MPC. The controller maximizes product quality whilst ensuring the process remains at the optimum even as disturbances such as raw material variability are introduced into the system. To summarize, a combination of online spectral monitoring and advanced process control was used to develop a robust system for optimization and control of two TSE based mechanosynthetic processes.

Keywords: continuous synthesis, pharmaceutical, spectroscopy, advanced process control

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24 Psychological Contract Violation and Occupational Stressors amongst UK Police Officers

Authors: Fazeelat Duran, Darren Bishopp, Jessica Woodhams


Psychological contract refers to the perceptions of an employee and their employer regarding their mutual obligations towards each other. The rationale for applying the psychological contract theory in UK policing was to investigate its impact on their wellbeing because the psychological contract is a useful tool in identifying factors having a negative effect on the wellbeing of employees. The paper will report on a study, which examined how occupational stressors and psychological contract violation may influence the wellbeing (e.g. Physical Stress and General Health) of a sample of police officers (N=127). The design of the study was cross-sectional and based on data collected through a self-report survey. The results of hierarchical regression analyses and structural equation model, suggest that occupational stressors and psychological contract violation play a critical role in both physical and psychological health. The implications of these findings and the utility of considering the psychological contract will be discussed.

Keywords: police officers, psychological contract, occupational stressors, wellbeing

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23 Psychological Contract Breach and Violation Relationships with Stress and Wellbeing

Authors: Fazeelat Duran, Darren Bishopp, Jessica Woodhams


Negative emotions resulting from the breach of perceived obligations by an employer is called the psychological contract violation. Employees perceiving breach and feelings of negative emotions result in adverse outcomes for both the employee and employer. This paper aims to identify the relationships between contract breach, violation, stress and wellbeing and investigate whether fairness and self-efficacy mediate the relationships. A mixed method approach was used to analyze the online-surveys and semi-structured interviews with the police officers. It was identified that the psychological contract violation predicts stress and job-related well-being. Fairness and self-efficacy were identified as significant mediators to understand the underlying mechanisms of association. Whilst, in the interviews social support was identified as a popular mediator. Practical implications for employers are discussed.

Keywords: psychological contract violation and breach, stressors, depression, anxiety

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22 Forecasting Stock Indexes Using Bayesian Additive Regression Tree

Authors: Darren Zou


Forecasting the stock market is a very challenging task. Various economic indicators such as GDP, exchange rates, interest rates, and unemployment have a substantial impact on the stock market. Time series models are the traditional methods used to predict stock market changes. In this paper, a machine learning method, Bayesian Additive Regression Tree (BART) is used in predicting stock market indexes based on multiple economic indicators. BART can be used to model heterogeneous treatment effects, and thereby works well when models are misspecified. It also has the capability to handle non-linear main effects and multi-way interactions without much input from financial analysts. In this research, BART is proposed to provide a reliable prediction on day-to-day stock market activities. By comparing the analysis results from BART and with time series method, BART can perform well and has better prediction capability than the traditional methods.

Keywords: BART, Bayesian, predict, stock

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21 Rotor Radial Vent Pumping in Large Synchronous Electrical Machines

Authors: Darren Camilleri, Robert Rolston


Rotor radial vents make use of the pumping effect to increase airflow through the active material thus reduce hotspot temperatures. The effect of rotor radial pumping in synchronous machines has been studied previously. This paper presents the findings of previous studies and builds upon their theories using a parametric numerical approach to investigate the rotor radial pumping effect. The pressure head generated by the poles and radial vent flow-rate were identified as important factors in maximizing the benefits of the pumping effect. The use of Minitab and ANSYS Workbench to investigate the key performance characteristics of radial pumping through a Design of Experiments (DOE) was described. CFD results were compared with theoretical calculations. A correlation for each response variable was derived through a statistical analysis. Findings confirmed the strong dependence of radial vent length on vent pressure head, and radial vent cross-sectional area was proved to be significant in maximising radial vent flow rate.

Keywords: CFD, cooling, electrical machines, regression analysis

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20 Development and Characterisation of a Microbioreactor 'Cassette' for Cell Culture Applications

Authors: Nelson Barrientos, Matthew J. Davies, Marco C. Marques, Darren N. Nesbeth, Gary J. Lye, Nicolas Szita


Microbioreactor technology is making important advances towards its application in cell culture and bioprocess development. In particular, the technology promises flexible and controllable devices capable to perform parallelised experimentation at low cost. Currently, state of the art methods (e.g. optical sensors) allow the accurate monitoring of the microbioreactor operation. In addition, the laminar flow regime encountered in these devices allows more predictive fluid dynamics modelling, improving the control over the soluble, physical and mechanical environment of the cells. This work describes the development and characterisation of a novel microbioreactor cassette system (microbioreactor volume is 150 μL. The volumetric oxygen transfer coefficient (KLa) and mixing time have been characterised to be between 25 to 113 h-1 and 0.5 and 0.1 s, respectively. In addition, the Residence time distribution (RTD) analysis confirms that the reactor operates at well mixed conditions. Finally, Staphylococcus carnosus TM300 growth is demonstrated via batch culture experiments. Future work consists in expanding the optics of the microbioreactor design to include the monitoring of variables such as fluorescent protein expression, among others.

Keywords: microbioreactor, cell-culture, fermentation, microfluidics

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19 Optimizing Cellulase Production from Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) Following a Solid State Fermentation (SSF) by Trichoderma reesei and Aspergillus niger

Authors: Jwan J. Abdullah, Greetham Darren, Gregory A, Tucker, Chenyu Du


Solid-state fermentation (SSF) is an alternative to liquid fermentations for the production of commercially important products such as antibiotics, single cell proteins, enzymes, organic acids, or biofuels from lignocellulosic material. This paper describes the optimisation of SSF on municipal solid waste (MSW) for the production of cellulase enzyme. Production of cellulase enzymes was optimised by Trichoderma reesei or Aspergillus niger for temperature, moisture content, inoculation, and period of incubation. Also, presence of minerals, and alternative carbon and nitrogen sources. Optimisation revealed that production of cellulolytic enzymes was optimal when using Trichoderma spp at 30°C with an incubation period of 168 hours with a 60% moisture content. Crude enzymes produced from MSW, by Trichoderma were evaluated for the saccharification of MSW and compared with activity of a commercially available enzyme, results demonstrated that MSW can be used as inexpensive lignocellulosic material for the production of cellulase enzymes using Trichoderma reesei.

Keywords: SSF, enzyme hydrolysis, municipal solid waste (MSW), optimizing conditions, enzyme hydrolysis

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18 The Twelfth Rib as a Landmark for Surgery

Authors: Jake Tempo, Georgina Williams, Iain Robertson, Claire Pascoe, Darren Rama, Richard Cetti


Introduction: The twelfth rib is commonly used as a landmark for surgery; however, its variability in length has not been formally studied. The highly variable rib length provides a challenge for urologists seeking a consistent landmark for percutaneous nephrolithotomy and retroperitoneoscopic surgery. Methods and materials: We analysed CT scans of 100 adults who had imaging between 23rd March and twelfth April 2020 at an Australian Hospital. We measured the distance from the mid-sagittal line to the twelfth rib tip in the axial plane as a surrogate for true rib length. We also measured the distance from the twelfth rib tip to the kidney, spleen, and liver. Results: Length from the mid-sagittal line to the right twelfth rib tip varied from 46 (percentile 95%CI 40 to 57) to 136mm (percentile 95%CI 133 to 138). On the left, the distances varied from 55 (percentile 95%CI 50 to 64) to 134mm (percentile 95%CI 131 to 135). Twenty-three percent of people had an organ lying between the tip of the twelfth rib and the kidney on the right, and 11% of people had the same finding on the left. Conclusion: The twelfth rib is highly variable in its length. Similar variability was recorded in the distance from the tip to intra-abdominal organs. Due to the frequency of organs lying between the tip of the rib and the kidney, it should not be used as a landmark for accessing the kidney without prior knowledge of an individual patient’s anatomy, as seen on imaging.

Keywords: PCNL, rib, anatomy, nephrolithotomy

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17 Improving Decision Support for Organ Transplant

Authors: Ian McCulloh, Andrew Placona, Darren Stewart, Daniel Gause, Kevin Kiernan, Morgan Stuart, Christopher Zinner, Laura Cartwright


An estimated 22-25% of viable deceased donor kidneys are discarded every year in the US, while waitlisted candidates are dying every day. As many as 85% of transplanted organs are refused at least once for a patient that scored higher on the match list. There are hundreds of clinical variables involved in making a clinical transplant decision and there is rarely an ideal match. Decision makers exhibit an optimism bias where they may refuse an organ offer assuming a better match is imminent. We propose a semi-parametric Cox proportional hazard model, augmented by an accelerated failure time model based on patient specific suitable organ supply and demand to estimate a time-to-next-offer. Performance is assessed with Cox-Snell residuals and decision curve analysis, demonstrating improved decision support for up to a 5-year outlook. Providing clinical decision makers with quantitative evidence of likely patient outcomes (e.g., time to next offer and the mortality associated with waiting) may improve decisions and reduce optimism bias, thus reducing discarded organs and matching more patients on the waitlist.

Keywords: decision science, KDPI, optimism bias, organ transplant

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16 Primary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Topical Analgesia Post Haemorrhoidectomy

Authors: James Jin, Weisi Xia, Runzhe Gao, Alain Vandal, Darren Svirkis, Andrew Hill


Background: Post-haemorrhoidectomy pain is concerned by patients/clinicians. Minimizing the postoperation pain is highly interested clinically. Combinations of topical cream targeting three hypothesised post-haemorrhoidectomy pain mechanisms were developed and their effectiveness were evaluated. Specifically, a multi-centred double-blinded randomized clinical trial (RCT) was conducted in adults undergoing excisional haemorrhoidectomy. The primary analysis was conveyed on the data collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the combinations of topical cream targeting three hypothesized pain mechanisms after the operations. Methods: 192 patients were randomly allocated to 4 arms (each arm has 48 patients), and each arm was provided with pain cream 10% metronidazole (M), M and 2% diltiazem (MD), M with 4% lidocaine (ML), or MDL, respectively. Patients were instructed to apply topical treatments three times a day for 7 days, and record outcomes for 14 days after the operations. The primary outcome was VAS pain on day 4. Covariates and models were selected in the blind review stage. Multiple imputations were applied for the missingness. LMER, GLMER models together with natural splines were applied. Sandwich estimators and Wald statistics were used. P-values < 0.05 were considered as significant. Conclusions: The addition of topical lidocaine or diltiazem to metronidazole does not add any benefit. ML had significantly better pain and recovery scores than combination MDL. Multimodal topical analgesia with ML after haemorrhoidectomy could be considered for further evaluation. Further trials considering only 3 arms (M, ML, MD) might be worth exploring.

Keywords: RCT, primary analysis, multiple imputation, pain scores, haemorrhoidectomy, analgesia, lmer

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15 A Structured Mechanism for Identifying Political Influencers on Social Media Platforms: Top 10 Saudi Political Twitter Users

Authors: Ahmad Alsolami, Darren Mundy, Manuel Hernandez-Perez


Social media networks, such as Twitter, offer the perfect opportunity to either positively or negatively affect political attitudes on large audiences. The existence of influential users who have developed a reputation for their knowledge and experience of specific topics is a major factor contributing to this impact. Therefore, knowledge of the mechanisms to identify influential users on social media is vital for understanding their effect on their audience. The concept of the influential user is related to the concept of opinion leaders' to indicate that ideas first flow from mass media to opinion leaders and then to the rest of the population. Hence, the objective of this research was to provide reliable and accurate structural mechanisms to identify influential users, which could be applied to different platforms, places, and subjects. Twitter was selected as the platform of interest, and Saudi Arabia as the context for the investigation. These were selected because Saudi Arabia has a large number of Twitter users, some of whom are considerably active in setting agendas and disseminating ideas. The study considered the scientific methods that have been used to identify public opinion leaders before, utilizing metrics software on Twitter. The key findings propose multiple novel metrics to compare Twitter influencers, including the number of followers, social authority and the use of political hashtags, and four secondary filtering measures. Thus, using ratio and percentage calculations to classify the most influential users, Twitter accounts were filtered, analyzed and included. The structured approach is used as a mechanism to explore the top ten influencers on Twitter from the political domain in Saudi Arabia.

Keywords: Twitter, influencers, structured mechanism, Saudi Arabia

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14 A Structured Mechanism for Identifying Political Influencers on Social Media Platforms Top 10 Saudi Political Twitter Users

Authors: Ahmad Alsolami, Darren Mundy, Manuel Hernandez-Perez


Social media networks, such as Twitter, offer the perfect opportunity to either positively or negatively affect political attitudes on large audiences. A most important factor contributing to this effect is the existence of influential users, who have developed a reputation for their awareness and experience on specific subjects. Therefore, knowledge of the mechanisms to identify influential users on social media is vital for understanding their effect on their audience. The concept of the influential user is based on the pioneering work of Katz and Lazarsfeld (1959), who created the concept of opinion leaders' to indicate that ideas first flow from mass media to opinion leaders and then to the rest of the population. Hence, the objective of this research was to provide reliable and accurate structural mechanisms to identify influential users, which could be applied to different platforms, places, and subjects. Twitter was selected as the platform of interest, and Saudi Arabia as the context for the investigation. These were selected because Saudi Arabia has a large number of Twitter users, some of whom are considerably active in setting agendas and disseminating ideas. The study considered the scientific methods that have been used to identify public opinion leaders before, utilizing metrics software on Twitter. The key findings propose multiple novel metrics to compare Twitter influencers, including the number of followers, social authority and the use of political hashtags, and four secondary filtering measures. Thus, using ratio and percentage calculations to classify the most influential users, Twitter accounts were filtered, analyzed and included. The structured approach is used as a mechanism to explore the top ten influencers on Twitter from the political domain in Saudi Arabia.

Keywords: twitter, influencers, structured mechanism, Saudi Arabia

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13 The Effect of Undernutrition on Sputum Culture Conversion and Treatment Outcomes among People with Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Authors: Fasil Wagnew, Kerri Viney, Kefyalew Addis Alene, Matthew Kelly, Darren Gray


Background: Undernutrition is a risk factor for tuberculosis (TB), including poor treatment outcomes. However, evidence regarding the effect of undernutrition on TB treatment outcomes is not well understood. We aimed to evaluate the effect of undernutrition on sputum culture conversion and treatment outcomes among people with multi-drug resistance (MDR)-TB. Methods: We searched for publications in the Medline, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science databases without restrictions on geography or year of publication. We conducted a random-effect meta-analysis to estimate the effects of undernutrition on sputum culture conversion and treatment outcomes. Two reviewers independently assessed the study eligibility, extracted the necessary information, and assessed the risk of bias. Depending on the nature of the data, odds ratio (OR) and hazard ratio (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were used to summarize the effect estimates. Potential publication bias was checked using funnel plots and Egger’s tests. Results: Of 2358 records screened, 59 studies comprising a total of 31,254 people with MDR-TB were included. Undernutrition was significantly associated with a lower sputum culture conversion rate (HR 0·7, 95% CI 0·6–0·9, I2=67·1%) and a higher rate of mortality (OR 2·9, 95%CI 2·1–3·8, I2=23·7%) and unfavourable treatment outcomes (OR 1·8, 95%CI 1·5–2·0, I2=72·7%). There was no statistically significant publication bias in the included studies. Three studies were low, forty-two studies were moderate, and fourteen studies were high quality. Interpretations: Undernutrition was significantly associated with unfavourable treatment outcomes, including mortality and lower sputum culture conversion among people with MDR-TB. These findings have implications for supporting targeted nutritional interventions alongside standardised second-line TB drugs.

Keywords: undernutrition, MDR-TB, sputum culture conversion, treatment outcomes, meta-analysis

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12 Effects of Zinc and Vitamin A Supplementation on Prognostic Markers and Treatment Outcomes of Adults with Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Authors: Fasil Wagnew, Kefyalew Addis Alene, Setegn Eshetie, Tom Wingfield, Matthew Kelly, Darren Gray


Introduction: Undernutrition is a major and under-appreciated risk factor for TB, which is estimated to be responsible for 1.9 million TB cases per year globally. The effectiveness of micronutrient supplementation on TB treatment outcomes and its prognostic markers such as sputum conversion and serum zinc, retinol, and hemoglobin levels has been poorly understood. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to determine the association between zinc and vitamin A supplementation and TB treatment outcomes and its prognostic markers. Methods: A systematic literature search for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was performed in PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases. Meta-analysis with a random effect model was performed to estimate risk ratio (RR) and mean difference (MD), with a 95% confidence interval (CI), for dichotomous and continuous outcomes, respectively. Results: Our search identified 2,195 records. Of these, nine RCTs consisting of 1,375 participants were included in the final analyses. Among adults with pulmonary TB, zinc (RR: 0.94, 95%CI: 0.86, 1.03), vitamin A (RR: 0.90, 95%CI: 0.80, 1.01), and combined zinc and vitamin A (RR: 0.98, 95%CI: 0.89, 1.08) supplementation were not significantly associated with TB treatment success. Combined zinc and vitamin A supplementation was significantly associated with increased sputum smear conversion at 2 months (RR: 1.16, 95%CI: 1.03, 1.32), serum zinc levels at 2 months (MD of 0.86umol/l, 95% CI: 0.14, 1.57), serum retinol levels at 2 months (MD: 0.06umol/l, 95 % CI: 0.04, 0.08) and 6 months (MD: 0.12umol/l, 95 % CI: 0.10, 0.14), and serum hemoglobin level at 6 months (MD: 0.29 ug/dl, 95% CI: 0.08 to 0.51), among adults with TB. Conclusions: Providing zinc and vitamin A supplementation to adults with pulmonary TB during treatment may increase early sputum smear conversion, serum zinc, retinol, and hemoglobin levels. However, the use of zinc, vitamin A, or both were not associated with TB treatment success.

Keywords: zinc and vitamin A supplementation, tuberculosis, treatment outcomes, meta-analysis, RCT

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11 Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and Later-Life Depression: Perceived Social Support as a Potential Protective Factor

Authors: E. Von Cheong, Carol Sinnott, Darren Dahly, Patricia M. Kearney


Introduction and Aim: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are all too common and have been linked to poorer health and wellbeing across the life course. While the prevention of ACEs is a worthy goal, it is important that we also try to lessen the impact of ACEs for those who do experience them. This study aims to investigate associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and later-life depressive symptoms; and to explore whether perceived social support (PSS) moderates these. Method: We analysed baseline data from the Mitchelstown (Ireland) 2010-11 cohort involving 2047 men and women aged 50–69 years. Self-reported assessments included ACEs (Centre for Disease Control ACE questionnaire), PSS (Oslo Social Support Scale), and depressive symptoms (CES-D). The primary exposure was self-report of at least one ACE. We also investigated the effects of ACE exposure by the subtypes abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Associations between each of these exposures and depressive symptoms were estimated using logistic regression, adjusted for socio-demographic factors that were selected using the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) approach. We also tested whether the estimated associations varied across levels of PSS (poor, moderate, and good). Results: 23.7% of participants reported at least one ACE (95% CI: 21.9% to 25.6%). ACE exposures (overall or subtype) were associated with a higher odds of depressive symptoms, but only among individuals with poor PSS. For example, exposure to any ACE (vs. none) was associated with 3 times the odds of depressive symptoms (Adjusted OR 2.97; 95% CI 1.63 to 5.40) among individuals reporting poor PSS, while among those reporting moderate PSS, the adjusted OR was 1.18 (95% CI 0.72 to 1.94). Discussion: ACEs are common among older adults in Ireland and are associated with higher odds of later-life depressive symptoms among those also reporting poor PSS. Interventions that enhance perception of social support following ACE exposure may help reduce the burden of depression in older populations.

Keywords: adverse childhood experiences, depression, later-life, perceived social support

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10 Systematic Review of Associations between Interoception, Vagal Tone, and Emotional Regulation

Authors: Darren Edwards, Thomas Pinna


Background: Interoception and heart rate variability have been found to predict outcomes of mental health and well-being. However, these have usually been investigated independently of one another. Objectives: This review aimed to explore the associations between interoception and heart rate variability (HRV) with emotion regulation (ER) and ER strategies within the existing literature and utilizing systematic review methodology. Methods: The process of article retrieval and selection followed the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Databases PsychINFO, Web of Science, PubMed, CINAHL, and MEDLINE were scanned for papers published. Preliminary inclusion and exclusion criteria were specified following the patient, intervention, comparison, and outcome (PICO) framework, whilst the checklist for critical appraisal and data extraction for systematic reviews of prediction modeling studies (CHARMS) framework was used to help formulate the research question, and to critically assess for bias in the identified full-length articles. Results: 237 studies were identified after initial database searches. Of these, eight studies were included in the final selection. Six studies explored the associations between HRV and ER, whilst three investigated the associations between interoception and ER (one of which was included in the HRV selection too). Overall, the results seem to show that greater HRV and interoception are associated with better ER. Specifically, high parasympathetic activity largely predicted the use of adaptive ER strategies such as reappraisal, and better acceptance of emotions. High interoception, instead, was predictive of effective down-regulation of negative emotions and handling of social uncertainty, there was no association with any specific ER strategy. Conclusions: Awareness of one’s own bodily feelings and vagal activation seem to be of central importance for the effective regulation of emotional responses.

Keywords: emotional regulation, vagal tone, interoception, chronic conditions, health and well-being, psychological flexibility

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9 Effect of Gamma Radiation, Age of Paddy, Rice Variety and Packaging Materials on the Surface Free Fatty Acid Content of Brown Rice

Authors: Zenaida M. De Guzman, Davison T. Baldos, Gilberto T. Diano, Jeff Darren G. Valdez, Levelyn Mitos Tolentino, Gina B. Abrera, Ma. Lucia Cobar, Cristina Gragasin


One of the factors affecting the quality of brown rice is the free fatty acid produced from surface lipids. It is the purpose of the study to determine the effect of gamma radiation, packaging materials and age and variety of paddy on the surface free fatty acid content using two different brown rice variety, namely, RC-160 and SL-7, packed in two different packaging materials, namely, regular polyethylene bag and Super bag irradiated at 0.5 and 1.0 kGy. Brown rice was produced from 2-week old (Lot 1) and two months old paddy (Lot 2) and irradiated at the Co-60 Multipurpose Irradiation Facility, PNRI. The surface Free Fatty Acid (FFA) content was obtained following the AOCS Official Method (1982) with some modifications. The experiment was laid out using Split-Plot Randomized Control Block Design. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed that the effects of variety, age of paddy and interactions of both were both significant. The surface FFA of SL-7 variety was found to be significantly higher than the RC-160 variety for all radiation doses. Likewise, Lot 2 was observed to have higher surface FFA than Lot 1 regardless of packaging material and radiation dose. It was observed that the surface FFA of both varieties packed in both packaging materials increased significantly up to the 2nd or 3rd month of storage and remains the same until the 5th month. On the other hand, radiation dose did not significantly affect the surface free fatty acid content for all storage/sampling time while the packaging material significantly interacts with the type of variety and radiation dose. Gamma radiation was proven to have no significant effect on the surface free fatty acid at 0.5 and 1.0 kGy and further analyses are needed to determine the action of gamma radiation to the activity of enzyme (lipase-induced and microbial) responsible for the production of other lipolytic products and the effect of gamma radiation on the integrity of the packaging materials.

Keywords: brown rice, free fatty acid, gamma radiation, polyethylene bag

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8 The Impact of COVID-19 on Antibiotic Prescribing in Primary Care in England: Evaluation and Risk Prediction of the Appropriateness of Type and Repeat Prescribing

Authors: Xiaomin Zhong, Alexander Pate, Ya-Ting Yang, Ali Fahmi, Darren M. Ashcroft, Ben Goldacre, Brian Mackenna, Amir Mehrkar, Sebastian C. J. Bacon, Jon Massey, Louis Fisher, Peter Inglesby, Kieran Hand, Tjeerd van Staa, Victoria Palin


Background: This study aimed to predict risks of potentially inappropriate antibiotic type and repeat prescribing and assess changes during COVID-19. Methods: With the approval of NHS England, we used the OpenSAFELY platform to access the TPP SystmOne electronic health record (EHR) system and selected patients prescribed antibiotics from 2019 to 2021. Multinomial logistic regression models predicted the patient’s probability of receiving an inappropriate antibiotic type or repeating the antibiotic course for each common infection. Findings: The population included 9.1 million patients with 29.2 million antibiotic prescriptions. 29.1% of prescriptions were identified as repeat prescribing. Those with same-day incident infection coded in the EHR had considerably lower rates of repeat prescribing (18.0%), and 8.6% had a potentially inappropriate type. No major changes in the rates of repeat antibiotic prescribing during COVID-19 were found. In the ten risk prediction models, good levels of calibration and moderate levels of discrimination were found. Important predictors included age, prior antibiotic prescribing, and region. Patients varied in their predicted risks. For sore throat, the range from 2.5 to 97.5th percentile was 2.7 to 23.5% (inappropriate type) and 6.0 to 27.2% (repeat prescription). For otitis externa, these numbers were 25.9 to 63.9% and 8.5 to 37.1%, respectively. Interpretation: Our study found no evidence of changes in the level of inappropriate or repeat antibiotic prescribing after the start of COVID-19. Repeat antibiotic prescribing was frequent and varied according to regional and patient characteristics. There is a need for treatment guidelines to be developed around antibiotic failure and clinicians provided with individualised patient information.

Keywords: antibiotics, infection, COVID-19 pandemic, antibiotic stewardship, primary care

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7 Health Outcomes from Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella in High-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Authors: Andrea Parisi, Samantha Vilkins, Luis Furuya-Kanamori, John A. Crump, Benjamin P. Howden, Darren Gray, Kathryn Glass, Martyn Kirk


Objectives: Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne enterocolitis worldwide. Nontyphoidal Salmonella (NTS) infections that are Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) (non-susceptible to ≥1 agent in ≥3 antimicrobial categories) may result in more severe outcomes, although these effects have not been systematically examined. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine impacts of MDR NTS on health in high-income settings. Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature from scientific databases, including PubMed, Scopus and grey literature sources, using PRISMA guidelines. We searched for data from case-control studies, cohorts, outbreaks, reports and theses, imposing no language restriction. We included only publications from January 1990 to September 2016 from high income countries as classified by World Bank. We extracted data from papers on duration of illness, hospitalisation rates, morbidity and mortality for MDR and non-MDR NTS strains. Results: After removing duplicates, the initial search revealed 4258 articles. After further screening, we identified 16 eligible studies for the systematic review, and 9 of these were included in meta-analysis. NTS serotypes differed among the reported studies but serotype Typhimurium, Enteritidis, Newport and Heidelberg were among the most often reported as MDR pathogens. Salmonella infections that were MDR were associated with excess bloodstream infections (OR 1.63; 95%CI 1.18-2.26), excess hospitalisations (OR 2.77; 95%CI 1.47-5.21) and higher mortality (OR 3.54; 95%CI 1.10-11.40). Conclusions: MDR NTS infections are a serious public health concern. With the emergence of MDR Salmonella strains in the high-income countries, it is crucial to restrict the use of antimicrobials both in animals and humans, and intervene to prevent foodborne infections.

Keywords: Antimicrobial Resistance, Bloodstream Infection, Health Outcomes, Hospitalisation, Invasive Disease, Multi-Drug Resistance (MDR), Mortality, Nontyphoidal Salmonella

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6 Influence of Settlements and Human Activities on Beetle Diversity and Assemblage Structure at Small Islands of the Kepulauan Seribu Marine National Park and Nearby Java

Authors: Shinta Holdsworth, Jan Axmacher, Darren J. Mann


Beetles represent the most diverse insect taxon, and they contribute significantly to a wide range of vital ecological functions. Examples include decomposition by bark beetles, nitrogen recycling and dung processing by dung beetles or pest control by predatory ground beetles. Nonetheless, research into the distribution patterns, species richness and functional diversity of beetles particularly from tropical regions remains extremely limited. In our research, we aim to investigate the distribution and diversity patterns of beetles and the roles they play in small tropical island ecosystems in the Kepulauan Seribu Marine National Park and on Java. Our research furthermore provides insights into the effects anthropogenic activities have on the assemblage composition and diversity of beetles on the small islands. We recorded a substantial number of highly abundant small island species, including a substantial number of unique small island species across the study area, highlighting these islands’ potential importance for the regional conservation of genetic resources. The highly varied patterns observed in relation to the use of different trapping types - pitfall traps and flight interception traps (FITs) - underscores the need for complementary trapping strategies that combine multiple methods for beetle community surveys in tropical islands. The significant impacts of human activities have on the small island beetle faunas were also highlighted in our research. More island beetle species encountered in settlement than forest areas shows clear trend of positive links between anthropogenic activities and the overall beetle species richness. However, undisturbed forests harboured a high number of unique species, also in comparison to disturbed forests. Finally, our study suggests that, with regards to different feeding guilds, the diversity of herbivorous beetles on islands is strongly affected by the different levels of forest cover encountered.

Keywords: beetle diversity, forest disturbance, island biogeography, island settlement

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5 Geographical Location and the Global Airline Industry: A Delphi Study into the Future of Home Base Requirements

Authors: Darren J. Ellis


This paper investigates the key industry-level consequences and future prospects for the global airline industry of the requirement for airlines to have a home base. This industry context results in geographical location playing a central role in determining how and where international airlines can operate, and the extent to which their international networks can develop. Data from a five stage mixed-methods Delphi study into the global airline industry’s likely future trajectory conducted in 2013 and 2014 are utilized to better understand the likelihood and consequences of home base requirements changing in future. Expert views and forecasts were collected to gauge core industry trends over a ten year timeframe. Attempts to change or bypass this industry requirement have not been successful to date outside of the European single air market. Europe remains the only prominent exception to the general rule in this regard. Most of the industry is founded on air space sovereignty, the nationality rule, and the bilateral system of traffic rights. Europe’s exceptionalism has seen it evolve into a single air market with characteristics similar to a nation-state, rather than to become a force for wider industry change and regional multilateralism. Europe has indeed become a key actor in global aviation, but Europe seems to now be part of the industry’s status quo, not a vehicle for substantially wider multilateralism around the world. The findings from this research indicate that the bilateral system is not viewed by most study experts as disappearing or substantially weakening in the foreseeable future. However, regional multilateralism was also viewed as progressively taking hold in the industry in future, demonstrating that for most industry experts the two are not seen as mutually exclusive but rather as being able to co-exist with each other. This reality ensures that geographical location will continue to play an important role in the global airline industry in future and that, home base requirements will not disappear any time soon either. Even moves in some aviation jurisdictions to dilute nationality requirements for airlines, and instead replace ownership and control restrictions with principal place of business tests, do not ultimately free airlines from their home base. Likewise, an expansion of what constitutes home base to include a regional grouping of countries – again, a currently uncommon reality in global aviation – does not fundamentally weaken the continued relevance of geographical location to the global industry’s future growth and development realities and prospects.

Keywords: airline industry, air space sovereignty, geographical location, home base

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4 Unifying RSV Evolutionary Dynamics and Epidemiology Through Phylodynamic Analyses

Authors: Lydia Tan, Philippe Lemey, Lieselot Houspie, Marco Viveen, Darren Martin, Frank Coenjaerts


Introduction: Human respiratory syncytial virus (hRSV) is the leading cause of severe respiratory tract infections in infants under the age of two. Genomic substitutions and related evolutionary dynamics of hRSV are of great influence on virus transmission behavior. The evolutionary patterns formed are due to a precarious interplay between the host immune response and RSV, thereby selecting the most viable and less immunogenic strains. Studying genomic profiles can teach us which genes and consequent proteins play an important role in RSV survival and transmission dynamics. Study design: In this study, genetic diversity and evolutionary rate analysis were conducted on 36 RSV subgroup B whole genome sequences and 37 subgroup A genome sequences. Clinical RSV isolates were obtained from nasopharyngeal aspirates and swabs of children between 2 weeks and 5 years old of age. These strains, collected during epidemic seasons from 2001 to 2011 in the Netherlands and Belgium by either conventional or 454-sequencing. Sequences were analyzed for genetic diversity, recombination events, synonymous/non-synonymous substitution ratios, epistasis, and translational consequences of mutations were mapped to known 3D protein structures. We used Bayesian statistical inference to estimate the rate of RSV genome evolution and the rate of variability across the genome. Results: The A and B profiles were described in detail and compared to each other. Overall, the majority of the whole RSV genome is highly conserved among all strains. The attachment protein G was the most variable protein and its gene had, similar to the non-coding regions in RSV, more elevated (two-fold) substitution rates than other genes. In addition, the G gene has been identified as the major target for diversifying selection. Overall, less gene and protein variability was found within RSV-B compared to RSV-A and most protein variation between the subgroups was found in the F, G, SH and M2-2 proteins. For the F protein mutations and correlated amino acid changes are largely located in the F2 ligand-binding domain. The small hydrophobic phosphoprotein and nucleoprotein are the most conserved proteins. The evolutionary rates were similar in both subgroups (A: 6.47E-04, B: 7.76E-04 substitution/site/yr), but estimates of the time to the most recent common ancestor were much lower for RSV-B (B: 19, A: 46.8 yrs), indicating that there is more turnover in this subgroup. Conclusion: This study provides a detailed description of whole RSV genome mutations, the effect on translation products and the first estimate of the RSV genome evolution tempo. The immunogenic G protein seems to require high substitution rates in order to select less immunogenic strains and other conserved proteins are most likely essential to preserve RSV viability. The resulting G gene variability makes its protein a less interesting target for RSV intervention methods. The more conserved RSV F protein with less antigenic epitope shedding is, therefore, more suitable for developing therapeutic strategies or vaccines.

Keywords: drug target selection, epidemiology, respiratory syncytial virus, RSV

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3 A Novel Nanocomposite Membrane Designed for the Treatment of Oil/Gas Produced Water

Authors: Zhaoyang Liu, Detao Qin, Darren Delai Sun


The onshore production of oil and gas (for example, shale gas) generates large quantities of wastewater, referred to be ‘produced water’, which contains high contents of oils and salts. The direct discharge of produced water, if not appropriately treated, can be toxic to the environment and human health. Membrane filtration has been deemed as an environmental-friendly and cost-effective technology for treating oily wastewater. However, conventional polymeric membranes have their drawbacks of either low salt rejection rate or high membrane fouling tendency when treating oily wastewater. Recent years, forward osmosis (FO) membrane filtration has emerged as a promising technology with its unique advantages of low operation pressure and less membrane fouling tendency. However, until now there is still no report about FO membranes specially designed and fabricated for treating the oily and salty produced water. In this study, a novel nanocomposite FO membrane was developed specially for treating oil- and salt-polluted produced water. By leveraging the recent advance of nanomaterials and nanotechnology, this nanocomposite FO membrane was designed to be made of double layers: an underwater oleophobic selective layer on top of a nanomaterial infused polymeric support layer. Wherein, graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets were selected to add into the polymeric support layer because adding GO nanosheets can optimize the pore structures of the support layer, thus potentially leading to high water flux for FO membranes. In addition, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) hydrogel was selected as the selective layer because hydrated and chemically-crosslinked PVA hydrogel is capable of simultaneously rejecting oil and salt. After nanocomposite FO membranes were fabricated, the membrane structures were systematically characterized with the instruments of TEM, FESEM, XRD, ATR-FTIR, surface zeta-potential and Contact angles (CA). The membrane performances for treating produced waters were tested with the instruments of TOC, COD and Ion chromatography. The working mechanism of this new membrane was also analyzed. Very promising experimental results have been obtained. The incorporation of GO nanosheets can reduce internal concentration polarization (ICP) effect in the polymeric support layer. The structural parameter (S value) of the new FO membrane is reduced by 23% from 265 ± 31 μm to 205 ± 23 μm. The membrane tortuosity (τ value) is decreased by 20% from 2.55 ± 0.19 to 2.02 ± 0.13 μm, which contributes to the decrease of S value. Moreover, the highly-hydrophilic and chemically-cross-linked hydrogel selective layer present high antifouling property under saline oil/water emulsions. Compared with commercial FO membrane, this new FO membrane possesses three times higher water flux, higher removal efficiencies for oil (>99.9%) and salts (>99.7% for multivalent ions), and significantly lower membrane fouling tendency (<10%). To our knowledge, this is the first report of a nanocomposite FO membrane with the combined merits of high salt rejection, high oil repellency and high water flux for treating onshore oil/gas produced waters. Due to its outstanding performance and ease of fabrication, this novel nanocomposite FO membrane possesses great application potential in wastewater treatment industry.

Keywords: nanocomposite, membrane, polymer, graphene oxide

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2 Rapid, Automated Characterization of Microplastics Using Laser Direct Infrared Imaging and Spectroscopy

Authors: Andreas Kerstan, Darren Robey, Wesam Alvan, David Troiani


Over the last 3.5 years, Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCL) technology has become increasingly important in infrared (IR) microscopy. The advantages over fourier transform infrared (FTIR) are that large areas of a few square centimeters can be measured in minutes and that the light intensive QCL makes it possible to obtain spectra with excellent S/N, even with just one scan. A firmly established solution of the laser direct infrared imaging (LDIR) 8700 is the analysis of microplastics. The presence of microplastics in the environment, drinking water, and food chains is gaining significant public interest. To study their presence, rapid and reliable characterization of microplastic particles is essential. Significant technical hurdles in microplastic analysis stem from the sheer number of particles to be analyzed in each sample. Total particle counts of several thousand are common in environmental samples, while well-treated bottled drinking water may contain relatively few. While visual microscopy has been used extensively, it is prone to operator error and bias and is limited to particles larger than 300 µm. As a result, vibrational spectroscopic techniques such as Raman and FTIR microscopy have become more popular, however, they are time-consuming. There is a demand for rapid and highly automated techniques to measure particle count size and provide high-quality polymer identification. Analysis directly on the filter that often forms the last stage in sample preparation is highly desirable as, by removing a sample preparation step it can both improve laboratory efficiency and decrease opportunities for error. Recent advances in infrared micro-spectroscopy combining a QCL with scanning optics have created a new paradigm, LDIR. It offers improved speed of analysis as well as high levels of automation. Its mode of operation, however, requires an IR reflective background, and this has, to date, limited the ability to perform direct “on-filter” analysis. This study explores the potential to combine the filter with an infrared reflective surface filter. By combining an IR reflective material or coating on a filter membrane with advanced image analysis and detection algorithms, it is demonstrated that such filters can indeed be used in this way. Vibrational spectroscopic techniques play a vital role in the investigation and understanding of microplastics in the environment and food chain. While vibrational spectroscopy is widely deployed, improvements and novel innovations in these techniques that can increase the speed of analysis and ease of use can provide pathways to higher testing rates and, hence, improved understanding of the impacts of microplastics in the environment. Due to its capability to measure large areas in minutes, its speed, degree of automation and excellent S/N, the LDIR could also implemented for various other samples like food adulteration, coatings, laminates, fabrics, textiles and tissues. This presentation will highlight a few of them and focus on the benefits of the LDIR vs classical techniques.

Keywords: QCL, automation, microplastics, tissues, infrared, speed

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1 Poly (3,4-Ethylenedioxythiophene) Prepared by Vapor Phase Polymerization for Stimuli-Responsive Ion-Exchange Drug Delivery

Authors: M. Naveed Yasin, Robert Brooke, Andrew Chan, Geoffrey I. N. Waterhouse, Drew Evans, Darren Svirskis, Ilva D. Rupenthal


Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) is a robust conducting polymer (CP) exhibiting high conductivity and environmental stability. It can be synthesized by either chemical, electrochemical or vapour phase polymerization (VPP). Dexamethasone sodium phosphate (dexP) is an anionic drug molecule which has previously been loaded onto PEDOT as a dopant via electrochemical polymerisation; however this technique requires conductive surfaces from which polymerization is initiated. On the other hand, VPP produces highly organized biocompatible CP structures while polymerization can be achieved onto a range of surfaces with a relatively straight forward scale-up process. Following VPP of PEDOT, dexP can be loaded and subsequently released via ion-exchange. This study aimed at preparing and characterising both non-porous and porous VPP PEDOT structures including examining drug loading and release via ion-exchange. Porous PEDOT structures were prepared by first depositing a sacrificial polystyrene (PS) colloidal template on a substrate, heat curing this deposition and then spin coating it with the oxidant solution (iron tosylate) at 1500 rpm for 20 sec. VPP of both porous and non-porous PEDOT was achieved by exposing to monomer vapours in a vacuum oven at 40 mbar and 40 °C for 3 hrs. Non-porous structures were prepared similarly on the same substrate but without any sacrificial template. Surface morphology, compositions and behaviour were then characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and cyclic voltammetry (CV) respectively. Drug loading was achieved by 50 CV cycles in a 0.1 M dexP aqueous solution. For drug release, each sample was exposed to 20 mL of phosphate buffer saline (PBS) placed in a water bath operating at 37 °C and 100 rpm. Film was stimulated (continuous pulse of ± 1 V at 0.5 Hz for 17 mins) while immersed into PBS. Samples were collected at 1, 2, 6, 23, 24, 26 and 27 hrs and were analysed for dexP by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC Agilent 1200 series). AFM and SEM revealed the honey comb nature of prepared porous structures. XPS data showed the elemental composition of the dexP loaded film surface, which related well with that of PEDOT and also showed that one dexP molecule was present per almost three EDOT monomer units. The reproducible electroactive nature was shown by several cycles of reduction and oxidation via CV. Drug release revealed success in drug loading via ion-exchange, with stimulated porous and non-porous structures exhibiting a proof of concept burst release upon application of an electrical stimulus. A similar drug release pattern was observed for porous and non-porous structures without any significant statistical difference, possibly due to the thin nature of these structures. To our knowledge, this is the first report to explore the potential of VPP prepared PEDOT for stimuli-responsive drug delivery via ion-exchange. The produced porous structures were ordered and highly porous as indicated by AFM and SEM. These porous structures exhibited good electroactivity as shown by CV. Future work will investigate porous structures as nano-reservoirs to increase drug loading while sealing these structures to minimize spontaneous drug leakage.

Keywords: PEDOT for ion-exchange drug delivery, stimuli-responsive drug delivery, template based porous PEDOT structures, vapour phase polymerization of PEDOT

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