Help Raise Money for Mesothelioma Research with an Exotic Mediterranean Feast & Cabaret Show!

Please join The Pacific Meso Center Saturday, May 3 at Byblos Mediterranean Restaurant in Westwood, California for an evening of delicious food, belly dancing and prizes to help raise money for mesothelioma research.The evening will be hosted by mesothelioma patient and owner, Mikhaiel Mikhaiel along with The Pacific Meso Center. Mikhaiel was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in November of 2013, and is glad to have this opportunity to raise money and awareness to benefit mesothelioma research.Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will be donated to benefit important stem cell research conducted by The Pacific Meso Center’s laboratory at the Pacific Heart, Lung & Blood Institute.“This evening gives people in the mesothelioma community a different bonding experience in a beautiful Mediterranean setting,” said the Pacific …

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Spanish forest ecosystems: Carbon emission will be higher in second half of century

Spanish forest ecosystems will quite probably emit high quantities of carbon dioxide in the second half of the 21st century. This is the conclusion of a report that reviews the results obtained from the implementation of the forest simulation model GOTILWA+, a tool to simulate forest growth processes under several environmental conditions and to optimize Mediterranean forests management strategies in the context of climate change.The report was published on the latest issue of the ecology and environment journal Ecosistemas, edited by the Spanish Association of Terrestrial Ecology. Peer review was led by professors Santiago Sabat and Carlos Gracia, of the Department of Ecology at the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), and the expert Daniel Nadal, of UB’s former Department.The study analyses data obtained from the simulation forest growth model GOTILWA+ (Growth Of Trees Is Limited by WAter), based on ecophysiological processes. The model enables to explore the effects of climate change on forestry ecosystems under changed environmental conditions and to simulate different management scenarios and compare them.Future perspectives for Spanish forestsIn climate change scenarios simulated by the model GOTILWA+ — within the Consolider-Ingenio project Montes and the research project Med-Forestream — , net primary productivity of Spanish forests (how much carbon dioxide plants take in during photosynthesis minus how much carbon dioxide they release during respiration) will decrease from the second half of this century. Consequently, woodlands that now drain carbon will become carbon producers because plant respiration (a process in which oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide is given out) and the decomposition of death organic matter will exceed photosynthesis processes (carbon sequestration and oxygen release).GOTILWA+ also explores the responses of different forest types to water availability. Climate change involves an increase of aridity and evaporative rates. In this context, simulations show that an increase of evapotranspiration will occur in Spanish forests; it will have a negative impact on other ecosystems, for example, on rivers.The most sensitive areasThe most sensitive areas to climate change effects are Mediterranean forests of evergreen oak, Alepo pine and Scots pine, located in the south-west of the Iberian Peninsula. Forest located in the north-west will be also affected, as simulations show a severe precipitation decrease in this area. Moreover, simulations show an increase of these forests’ sensitivity to aridity. For instance, beech forests are particularly sensitive to a slight increase in average temperature as well as those forests located at low height, so altitudinal migrations will probably occur.Forest management: key to mitigate climate change impactIn the report, Gracia, Sabat and Nadal highlight that management strategies adapted to environmental changes are crucial to the conservation of Iberian forests and the resources they provide to society. …

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Whole diet approach to lower cardiovascular risk has more evidence than low-fat diets

A study published in The American Journal of Medicine reveals that a whole diet approach, which focuses on increased intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, has more evidence for reducing cardiovascular risk than strategies that focus exclusively on reduced dietary fat.This new study explains that while strictly low-fat diets have the ability to lower cholesterol, they are not as conclusive in reducing cardiac deaths. By analyzing major diet and heart disease studies conducted over the last several decades, investigators found that participants directed to adopt a whole diet approach instead of limiting fat intake had a greater reduction in cardiovascular death and non-fatal myocardial infarction.Early investigations of the relationship between food and heart disease linked high levels of serum cholesterol to increased intake of saturated fat, and subsequently, an increased rate of coronary heart disease. This led to the American Heart Association’s recommendation to limit fat intake to less than 30% of daily calories, saturated fat to 10%, and cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day.”Nearly all clinical trials in the 1960s, 70s and 80s compared usual diets to those characterized by low total fat, low saturated fat, low dietary cholesterol, and increased polyunsaturated fats,” says study co-author James E. Dalen, MD, MPH, Weil Foundation, and University of Arizona College of Medicine. “These diets did reduce cholesterol levels. However they did not reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction or coronary heart disease deaths.”Carefully analyzing studies and trials from 1957 to the present, investigators found that the whole diet approach, and specifically Mediterranean-style diets, are effective in preventing heart disease, even though they may not lower total serum or LDL cholesterol. The Mediterranean-style diet is low in animal products and saturated fat, and encourages intake of monounsaturated fats found in nuts and olive oil. In particular, the diet emphasizes consumption of vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and fish.”The potency of combining individual cardioprotective foods is substantial — and perhaps even stronger than many of the medications and procedures that have been the focus of modern cardiology,” explains co-author Stephen Devries, MD, FACC, Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology (Deerfield, IL) and Division of Cardiology, Northwestern University (Chicago, IL). “Results from trials emphasizing dietary fat reduction were a disappointment, prompting subsequent studies incorporating a whole diet approach with a more nuanced recommendation for fat intake.”Based on the data from several influential studies, which are reviewed in the article, Dalen and Devries concluded that emphasizing certain food groups, while encouraging people to decrease others, is more cardioprotective and overall better at preventing heart disease than a blanket low-fat diet. Encouraging the consumption of olive oil over butter and cream, while increasing the amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and fish promises to be more effective.”The last fifty years of epidemiology and clinical trials have established a clear link between diet, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular events,” concludes Dr. …

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Infertility problems? Eating tips to boost fertility

Oct. 17, 2013 — Women who watch their weight and closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, vegetable oils, fish and beans may increase their chance of becoming pregnant, according to dietitians at Loyola University Health System (LUHS).”Establishing a healthy eating pattern and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive,” said Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, LUHS. “Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.”Thirty percent of infertility is due to either being overweight or underweight, according to the National Infertility Association. Both of these extremes in weight cause shifts in hormones, which can affect ovulation. Reducing weight by even 5 percent can enhance fertility.Schantz recommends the following additional nutrition tips for women who are looking to conceive:-Reduce intake of foods with trans and saturated fats while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil-Lower intake of animal protein and add more vegetable protein to your diet-Add more fiber to your diet by consuming whole grains, vegetables and fruit-Incorporate more vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains-Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy-Take a regular women’s multivitaminApproximately 40 percent of infertility issues are attributed to men, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Among them is low sperm count and poor sperm motility, which are common in overweight and obese men.”Men who are looking to have a baby also have a responsibility to maintain a healthy body weight and consume a balanced diet, because male obesity may affect fertility by altering testosterone and other hormone levels,” Schantz said.

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Paleorivers across Sahara may have supported ancient human migration routes

Sep. 11, 2013 — Three ancient river systems, now buried, may have created viable routes for human migration across the Sahara to the Mediterranean region about 100,000 years ago, according to research published September 11 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Tom Coulthard from the University of Hull, UK, and colleagues from other institutions.Share This:Simulating paleoclimates in the region, the researchers found quantitative evidence of three major river systems that likely existed in North Africa 130,000-100,000 years ago, but are now largely buried by dune systems in the desert. When flowing, these rivers likely provided fertile habitats for animals and vegetation, creating ‘green corridors’ across the region. At least one river system is estimated to have been 100 km wide and largely perennial. The Irharhar river, westernmost of the three identified, may represent a likely route of human migration across the region. In addition to rivers, the researchers’ simulations predict massive lagoons and wetlands in northeast Libya, some of which span over 70,000-square kilometers.”It’s exciting to think that 100,000 years ago there were three huge rivers forcing their way across a 1000km of the Sahara desert to the Mediterranean — and that our ancestors could have walked alongside them” said Coulthard.Previous studies have shown that people travelled across the Saharan mountains toward more fertile Mediterranean regions, but when, where and how they did so is a subject of debate. Existing evidence supports the possibilities of a single trans-Saharan migration, many migrations along one route, or multiple migrations along several different routes. The existence of ‘green corridors’ that provided water and food resources were likely critical to these events, but their location and the amount of water they carried is not known. The simulations provided in this study aim to quantify the probability that these routes may have been viable for human migration across the region.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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Mediterranean diet is good for the mind, research confirms

Sep. 3, 2013 — The first systematic review of related research confirms a positive impact on cognitive function, but an inconsistent effect on mild cognitive impairment.Over recent years many pieces of research have identified a link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of age-related disease such as dementia.Until now there has been no systematic review of such research, where a number of studies regarding a Mediterranean diet and cognitive function are reviewed for consistencies, common trends and inconsistencies.A team of researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School, supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care in the South West Peninsula (NIHR PenCLAHRC), has carried out the first such systematic review and their findings are published in Epidemiology.The team analysed 12 eligible pieces of research, 11 observational studies and one randomised control trial. In nine out of the 12 studies, a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.However, results for mild cognitive impairment were inconsistent.A Mediterranean diet typically consists of higher levels of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and fish. A higher adherence to the diet means higher daily intakes of fruit and vegetables and fish, and reduced intakes of meat and dairy products.The study was led by researcher Iliana Lourida. She said: “Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence.”She added: “Our review also highlights inconsistencies in the literature and the need for further research. In particular research is needed to clarify the association with mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia. It is also important to note that while observational studies provide suggestive evidence we now need randomized controlled trials to confirm whether or not adherence to a Mediterranean diet protects against dementia.”

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Following a Mediterranean diet not associated with delay to clinical onset of Huntington disease

Sep. 2, 2013 — Adhering to a Mediterranean-type diet (MedDi) does not appear associated with the time to clinical onset of Huntington disease (phenoconversion), according to a study by Karen Marder, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, N.Y., and colleagues.Share This:The Mediterranean diet, a diet high in plant foods (e.g. fruits, nuts, legumes, and cereals) and fish, with olive oil as the primary source of monounsaturated fat (MUSF) and low to moderate intake of wine, as well as low intake of red meat, poultry, and dairy products, is known to be beneficial for health owing to its protective effects in many chronic diseases, according to the study background.A prospective cohort study of 41 Huntington study group sites in the United States and Canada involving 1,001 participants enrolled in the Prospective Huntington at Risk Observational Study (PHAROS) between July 1999 and January 2004 who were followed up every nine months until 2010, completed a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire administered 33 months after baseline. A total of 211 participants ages 26 to 57 years had an expanded CAG repeat length (≥37), a certain genetic characteristic).The highest body mass index was associated with the lowest adherence to MedDi. Thirty-one participants phenoconverted. In a model adjusted for age, CAG repeat length, and caloric intake, MeDi was not associated with phenoconversion. When individual components of MeDi were analyzed, higher dairy consumption (hazard ratio, 2.36) and higher caloric intake were associated with risk of phenoconversion, according to the study results.”Our results suggest that studies of diet and energy expenditure in premanifest HD may provide data for both nonpharmacological interventions and pharmacological interventions to modify specific components of diet that may delay the onset of HD,” the study concludes.Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by American Medical Association (AMA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? …

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Insight into marine life’s ability to adapt to climate change

Aug. 26, 2013 — A study into marine life around an underwater volcanic vent in the Mediterranean, might hold the key to understanding how some species will be able to survive in increasingly acidic sea water should anthropogenic climate change continue.Researchers have discovered that some species of polychaete worms are able to modify their metabolic rates to better cope with and thrive in waters high in carbon dioxide (CO2), which is otherwise poisonous to other, often closely-related species.The study sheds new light on the robustness of some marine species and the relative resilience of marine biodiversity should atmospheric CO2 continue to cause ocean acidification.A team of scientists led by Plymouth University, and including colleagues from the Naples Zoological Station in Ischia; the Marine Ecology Laboratory ENEA in La Spezia, Italy; the University of Texas Galveston; and the University of Hull, conducted a three-year research project into the potential mechanisms that species of worm polychaetes use to live around the underwater CO2 vent of Ischia in Southern Italy.The researchers collected specimens found in waters characterised by either elevated or low levels of CO2, and placed them in specially-constructed ‘transplantation chambers’, which were then lowered into areas both within and away from the volcanic vent.They monitored the responses of the worms and found that one of the species that had been living inside the CO2 vent was physiologically and genetically adapted to the acidic conditions, whilst another was able to survive inside the vent by adjusting its metabolism.Project leader Dr Piero Calosi, of Plymouth University’s Marine Institute, said: “Previous studies have shown that single-cell algae can genetically adapt to elevated levels of carbon dioxide, but this research has demonstrated that a marine animal can physiologically and genetically adapt to chronic and elevated levels of carbon dioxide.”Furthermore, we show that both plasticity and adaptation are key to preventing some species’ from suffering extinction in the face of on-going ocean acidification, and that these two strategies may be largely responsible to defining the fate of marine biodiversity.”The results revealed that species normally found inside the CO2 vent were better able to regulate their metabolic rate when exposed to high CO2 conditions, whilst species only found outside the CO2 vent were clearly impaired by acidic waters. In fact, their metabolism either greatly decreased, indicating reduced energy production, or greatly increased, indicating a surge in the basic cost of living, in both cases making life inside the vent unsustainable.Dr Maria-Cristina Gambi, of the Naples Zoological Station in Ischia, explained: “Despite some species showing the ability to metabolically adapt and adjust to the extreme conditions that are found inside the CO2 vents, others appear unable to physiologically cope with such conditions.”In this sense, our findings could help to explain mass extinctions of the past, and potential extinctions in the future, as well as shed light on the resilience of some species to on-going ocean acidification.”The team also found that those species adapted to live inside the CO2 vent showed slightly higher metabolic rates and were much smaller in size — up to 80% smaller — indicating that adaptation came at a cost of energy for growth.Dr Calosi concluded that: ”Ultimately, species’ physiological responses to high CO2, as those reported by our study, may have repercussions on their abundance and distribution, and thus on the structure and dynamics of marine communities. This in turn will impact those ecosystem functions that humans rely upon to obtain goods and services from the ocean.”The research was funded by a Natural Environment Research Council UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme grant, and an Assemble Marine EU FP7 scheme.

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Both a Mediterranean diet and diets low in available carbohydrates protect against type 2 diabetes, study suggests

Aug. 15, 2013 — New research shows that a Mediterranean-style diet and diets low in available carbohydrates can offer protection against type 2 diabetes. The study is published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), and is by Dr Carlo La Vecchia, Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research, Milan, Italy, and colleagues.Share This:The authors studied patients from Greece who are part of the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC), led by Dr. Antonia Trichopoulou, from the University of Athens. From a total of 22,295 participants, actively followed up for just over 11 years, 2,330 cases of type 2 diabetes were recorded. To assess dietary habits, all participants completed a questionnaire, and the researchers constructed a 10-point Mediterranean diet score (MDS) and a similar scale to measure the available carbohydrate (or glycaemic load [GL]) of the diet.People with an MDS of over 6 were 12% less likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest MDS of 3 or under. Patients with the highest available carbohydrate in their diet were 21% more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest. A high MDS combined with low available carbohydrate reduced the chances of developing diabetes by 20% as compared with a diet low in MDS and high in GL.The authors say: “The role of the Mediterranean diet in weight control is still controversial, and in most studies from Mediterranean countries the adherence to the Mediterranean diet was unrelated to overweight. This suggests that the protection of the Mediterranean diet against diabetes is not through weight control, but through several dietary characteristics of the Mediterranean diet. However, this issue is difficult to address in cohort studies because of the lack of information on weight changes during follow-up that are rarely recorded.”They point out that a particular feature of the Mediterranean diet is the use of extra virgin olive oil which leads to a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids. …

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New biomolecular archaeological evidence points to the beginnings of viniculture in France

June 3, 2013 — France is renowned the world over as a leader in the crafts of viticulture and winemaking — but the beginnings of French viniculture have been largely unknown, until now.Imported ancient Etruscan amphoras and a limestone press platform, discovered at the ancient port site of Lattara in southern France, have provided the earliest known biomolecular archaeological evidence of grape wine and winemaking — and point to the beginnings of a Celtic or Gallic vinicultural industry in France circa 500-400 BCE. Details of the discovery are published as “The Beginning of Viniculture in France” in the June 3, 2013 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Dr. Patrick McGovern, Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton University Press, 2006) is the lead author on the paper, which was researched and written in collaboration with colleagues from France and the United States.For Dr. McGovern, much of whose career has been spent examining the archaeological data, developing the chemical analyses, and following the trail of the Eurasian grapevine (Vitis vinifera) in the wild and its domestication by humans, this confirmation of the earliest evidence of viniculture in France is a key step in understanding the ongoing development of what he calls the “wine culture” of the world — one that began in the Turkey’s Taurus Mountains, the Caucasus Mountains, and/or the Zagros Mountains of Iran about 9,000 years ago.”France’s rise to world prominence in the wine culture has been well documented, especially since the 12th century, when the Cistercian monks determined by trial-and-error that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were the best cultivars to grow in Burgundy,” Dr. McGovern noted. “What we haven’t had is clear chemical evidence, combined with botanical and archaeological data, showing how wine was introduced into France and initiated a native industry.”Now we know that the ancient Etruscans lured the Gauls into the Mediterranean wine culture by importing wine into southern France. This built up a demand that could only be met by establishing a native industry, likely done by transplanting the domesticated vine from Italy, and enlisting the requisite winemaking expertise from the Etruscans.”Combined Archaeological, Chemical, and Archaeobotanical Evidence Corroborate DiscoveryAt the site of Lattara, merchant quarters inside a walled settlement, circa 525-475 BCE, held numerous Etruscan amphoras, three of which were selected for analysis because they were whole, unwashed, found in an undisturbed, sealed context, and showed signs of residue on their interior bases where precipitates of liquids, such as wine, collect. Judging by their shape and other features, they could be assigned to a specific Etruscan amphora type, likely manufactured at the city of Cisra (modern Cerveteri) in central Italy during the same time period.After sample extraction, ancient organic compounds were identified by a combination of state-of-the-art chemical techniques, including infrared spectrometry, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, solid phase microextraction, ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, and one of the most sensitive techniques now available, used here for the first time to analyze ancient wine and grape samples, liquid chromatography-Orbitrap mass spectrometry.All the samples were positive for tartaric acid/tartrate (the biomarker or fingerprint compound for the Eurasian grape and wine in the Middle East and Mediterranean), as well as compounds deriving from pine tree resin. Herbal additives to the wine were also identified, including rosemary, basil and/or thyme, which are native to central Italy where the wine was likely made. …

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Boom in jellyfish: Overfishing called into question

May 3, 2013 — Will we soon be forced to eat jellyfish? Since the beginning of the 2000s, these gelatinous creatures have invaded many of the world’s seas, like the Japan Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, etc. Is it a cyclic phenomenon, caused by changes in marine currents or even global warming? Until now, the causes remained unknown. A new study conducted by IRD researchers and its partners, published in Bulletin of Marine Science, exposes overfishing as the main factor.

Jellyfish have free rein

Jellyfish predators, such as tuna and sea turtles, are disappearing due to overfishing. However, jellyfish are primarily taking advantage of the overfishing of small pelagic fish. Just like these cnidarians, sardines, herring, anchovies and more feed off zooplankton. Thus, they represent their main competition for food. In areas where too many of these fish are caught, they free up an ecological niche. Jellyfish now have free rein and can thrive. Furthermore, small fish eat the eggs and larvae of jellyfish. Therefore, under normal conditions, they regulate the population. In their absence, there is nothing to stop the proliferation of these gelatinous creatures.

Comparison as proof

In order to demonstrate the major role played by overfishing, researchers compared two ecosystems belonging to the same ocean current, the Benguela, which flows along the south of Africa. The first ecosystem is located off the coast of Namibia. Here, fish stock management measures are not very restrictive. The stocks are barely restored before fishing activities start up again. Jellyfish are currently colonising these coastal waters. The second ecosystem is located 1,000 km further south, off the coast of South Africa. Here, the opposite is true: fishing has been tightly controlled for 60 years. The jellyfish population has not increased.

Fisheries suffer the effects

A vicious circle is developing in affected areas. Under the water, the links in the food chain are much more flexible than on Earth: prey species can feed off their predators. As such, jellyfish devour larval fish. Their proliferation prevents the renewal of fishery resources. This invasive species in turn threatens fisheries. In Namibia, some 10 million tonnes of sardines in the 1960s made way for 12 million tonnes of jellyfish.

Jellyfish are the pet peeve of tourists. The sting of their poisonous filaments — although seldom deadly — is very urticant. Therefore, they put economic activities in many regions across the world at risk. This is particularly true in countries which depend on these resources, such as several developing countries.

This research work underlines the necessity of an ecosystemic approach towards the exploitation of the sea. In other words, the implementation of management measures which take into account all levels of the trophic network. According to scientists, this is the only way to prevent jellyfish from landing on our plates in the near future.

Did you know?

Jellyfish are made up of 98% water. They have neither a brain, nor a heart or teeth… And yet, they are fierce predators! They immobilise their prey with their poisonous tentacles.

The boom in jellyfish is observed across the entire planet. To date, however, there is no hard data on the increase in their global population.

There are hundreds of species of jellyfish which come in a great variety of colours, shapes and sizes, ranging from a few millimetres to several metres in diameter. The majority of them are carnivorous.

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