‘Lost in translation’ issues in Chinese medicine addressed by researchers

Millions of people in the West today utilize traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, herbs, massage and nutritional therapies. Yet only a few U.S. schools that teach Chinese medicine require Chinese-language training and only a handful of Chinese medical texts have so far been translated into English.Given the complexity of the language and concepts in these texts, there is a need for accurate, high-quality translations, say researchers at UCLA’s Center for East-West Medicine. To that end, the center has published a document that includes a detailed discussion of the issues involved in Chinese medical translation, which is designed to help students, educators, practitioners, researchers, publishers and translators evaluate and digest Chinese medical texts with greater sensitivity and comprehension.”This publication aims to raise awareness among the many stakeholders involved with the translation of Chinese medicine,” said principal investigator and study author Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, founder and director of the UCLA center.The 15-page document, “Considerations in the Translation of Chinese Medicine” was developed and written by a UCLA team that included a doctor, an anthropologist, a China scholar and a translator. It appears in the current online edition of the Journal of Integrative Medicine.Authors Sonya Pritzker, a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner and anthropologist, and Hanmo Zhang, a China scholar, hope the publication will promote communication in the field and play a role in the development of thorough, accurate translations.The document highlights several important topics in the translation of Chinese medical texts, including the history of Chinese medical translations, which individuals make ideal translators, and other translation-specific issues, such as the delicate balance of focusing translations on the source-document language while considering the language it will be translated into.It also addresses issues of technical terminology, period-specific language and style, and historical and cultural perspective. For example, depending on historical circumstances and language use, some translations may be geared toward a Western scientific audience or, alternately, it may take a more natural and spiritual tone. The authors note that it is sometimes helpful to include dual translations, such as “windfire eye/acute conjunctivitis,” in order to facilitate a link between traditional Chinese medical terms and biomedical diagnoses.The final section of the document calls for further discussion and action, specifically in the development of international collaborative efforts geared toward the creation of more rigorous guidelines for the translation of Chinese medicine texts.”Considerations in the Translation of Chinese Medicine,” was inspired by the late renowned translator and scholar Michael Heim, a professor in the UCLA departments of comparative literature and Slavic studies. A master of 12 languages, he is best known for his translation into English of Czech author Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” The new UCLA document is dedicated to him.The document, the authors say, was influenced in large part by the American Council of Learned Societies’ “Guidelines for the Translation of Social Science Texts,” which are intended to promote communications in the social sciences across language boundaries. It was also influenced by Pritzker’s longstanding anthropological study of translation in Chinese medicine, which is detailed in her new book, “Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. …

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Importance of nutrients for coral reefs highlighted by scientists

A new publication from researchers at the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton highlights the importance of nutrients for coral reef survival.Despite the comparably small footprint they take on the ocean floor, tropical coral reefs are home to a substantial part of all marine life forms. Coral reefs also provide numerous benefits for human populations, providing food for millions and protecting coastal areas from erosion. Moreover, they are a treasure chest of potential pharmaceuticals and coral reef tourism provides recreation and income for many.Unfortunately, coral reefs are declining at an alarming rate. To promote management activities that can help coral reef survival, an international group of world renowned scientists have summarized the present knowledge about the challenges that coral reefs are facing now and in the future in a special issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. The contribution of scientists from the University of Southampton to this special issue highlights the crucial role of nutrients for the functioning of coral reefs.The University of Southampton researchers who are based at the Coral Reef Laboratory in the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, explain that “too many” nutrients can be as bad for corals as “not enough.”Dr Jrg Wiedenmann, Professor of Biological Oceanography at the University of Southampton and Head of the Coral Reef Laboratory, says: “The nutrient biology of coral reefs is immensely complex. It is important to distinguish between the different direct and indirect effects that a disturbance of the natural nutrient environment can have on a coral reef ecosystem.”Since corals live in a symbiotic relationship with microscopically small plant cells, they require certain amounts of nutrients as “fertiliser.” In fact, the experimental addition of nutrients can promote coral growth. “One should not conclude from such findings, however, that nutrient enrichment is beneficial for coral reefs — usually the opposite is true,” explains Dr Cecilia D’Angelo, Senior Research Fellow in the Coral Reef Laboratory and co-author on the article.Dr Wiedenmann, whose research on coral reef nutrient biology is supported by one of the Starting Grants from the European Research Commission, adds: “Too many nutrients harm corals in many different ways, easily outweighing the positive effects that they can undoubtedly have for the coral-alga association.Paradoxically, the initial addition of nutrients to the water column might result in nutrient starvation of the corals at a later stage. In this publication, we conceptualise the important role that the competition for nutrients by phytoplankton, the free-living relatives of the corals’ symbiotic algae, may have in this context.””Nutrient pollution will continue to increase in many coral reefs. Therefore, an important prerequisite to develop efficient management strategies is a profound understanding of the different mechanisms by which corals suffer from nutrient stress.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Research: It’s more than just the science

When putting together a team of scientists to work on a problem, it makes sense to bring together the best and brightest in the field, right?Well, maybe not.In a newly published paper, a team of researchers from institutions across the country, including Michigan State University, outline not only why it’s important to pursue science collaboratively, but how to create and maintain science teams to get better research results.Lead author Kendra Cheruvelil, an associate professor in MSU’s Lyman Briggs College and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said equally important to team members’ scientific knowledge is whether they can communicate well, are socially sensitive and emotionally engaged with each other.”In other words, better science gets done when people put their egos aside, when they like each other, when they come from a wide range of backgrounds, and when they know how to effectively talk to each other,” she said. “This may sound obvious to some, or not important to others. But based on the studies that we compiled, these factors are quite critical to the success of many types of teams.”Writing in the publication Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published by the Ecological Society of America, the multi-institutional team says that scientists can learn much from the fields of business and education where researchers have studied how teams work for years.”We thought it was time to take what has been learned from studying business and education teams and apply it to science teams,” Cheruvelil said.So how should this happen? For starters, future scientists can learn the ways of collaboration when they start learning the intricacies of scientific research — in graduate school.”Students need to learn how to work with others in order to produce high-impact research products,” the team writes. “One way to meet this need is for graduate programs to offer seminars, workshops or entire courses on how to effectively collaborate in science.”The researchers also suggest that formal team-building exercises that focus on developing the skills needed to be a good team member and leader, such as conflict negotiation, effective communication, and time management, can promote collaborative scientific research.This paper is part of a special issue, co-edited by MSU fisheries and wildlife professor Patricia Soranno, that explores a new field of study known as macrosystems ecology and was a product of a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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AIDS vaccine candidate appears to completely clear virus from the body in monkeys

Sep. 11, 2013 — An HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate developed by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University appears to have the ability to completely clear an AIDS-causing virus from the body. The promising vaccine candidate is being developed at OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. It is being tested through the use of a non-human primate form of HIV, called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, which causes AIDS in monkeys. Following further development, it is hoped an HIV-form of the vaccine candidate can soon be tested in humans.These research results were published online today by the journal Nature. The results will also appear in a future print version of the publication.”To date, HIV infection has only been cured in a very small number of highly-publicized but unusual clinical cases in which HIV-infected individuals were treated with anti-viral medicines very early after the onset of infection or received a stem cell transplant to combat cancer,” said Louis Picker, M.D., associate director of the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. “This latest research suggests that certain immune responses elicited by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body.”The Picker lab’s approach involves the use of cytomegalovirus, or CMV, a common virus already carried by a large percentage of the population. In short, the researchers discovered that pairing CMV with SIV had a unique effect. They found that a modified version of CMV engineered to express SIV proteins generates and indefinitely maintains so-called “effector memory” T-cells that are capable of searching out and destroying SIV-infected cells.T-cells are a key component of the body’s immune system, which fights off disease, but T-cells elicited by conventional vaccines of SIV itself are not able to eliminate the virus. The SIV-specific T-cells elicited by the modified CMV were different. …

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Biodiversity where you least expect it: A new beetle species from a busy megacity

Sep. 5, 2013 — Metro Manila — the world’s 10th largest megacity and 6th largest conurbation, based on official statistics — is not a place one would normally expect to discover new species, even in a country that is known as a biodiversity hotspot.In a 83-hectare green island amidst the unnatural ocean of countless human-made edifices, researchers of the Ateneo de Manila University have discovered a tiny new species of aquatic beetle, aptly named Hydraena ateneo. It was named after the University, a 154-year-old Jesuit-run institution that is recognized as one of the premier universities in the Philippines and in the region. The international open access scientific journal Zookeys has published the paper about the unusual discovery in its latest issue [329: 9 (2013)]. The publication of the fact is just timely, given that the university’s Department of Biology is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.During field training in November 2012, Biology students and a faculty member of the Department of Biology sampled small creeks, ponds, and pools in wooded areas within their sprawling university campus. The group found seven species of water beetles, of which one was a new record for the entire island of Luzon and another was Hydraena ateneo.Arielle Vidal, at the time of the training enrolled in the Department’s B.S. Life Sciences program, says: “I was so amazed that there are new species even in the Ateneo Campus in the middle of Manila. Then I was sure that I wanted to write my thesis on a taxonomic topic.” Kimberly Go, her thesis partner, adds: “Then we pushed through and investigated a remote river catchment in Mindoro. We found several new species of the same genus there, too.”Their thesis adviser and author of the recent paper, Associate Professor Dr. Hendrik Freitag, explains: “The Long-palped Water Beetles (genus Hydraena) are in fact one of the most overlooked and diverse genera of aquatic beetles. …

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Fecal microbiota transplantation as effective treatment for C. difficile and other diseases

Aug. 22, 2013 — Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has emerged as a highly effective treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection, with very early experience suggesting that it may also play a role in treating other gastrointestinal (GI) and non-GI diseases. The topic is examined in the Review Article, “An overview of fecal microbiota transplantation: techniques, indications, and outcomes” in the August issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.Fecal microbiota transplantation refers to the infusion of a suspension of fecal matter from a healthy individual into the GI tract of another person to cure a specific disease. FMT has received public attention recently with the publication of several studies showing that stool is a biologically active, complex mixture of living organisms with great therapeutic potential for Clostridium difficile infection and perhaps other GI and non-GI disorders. C. difficile is a bacterium recognized as the major causative agent of colitis (inflammation of the colon) and diarrhea that may occur following antibiotic intake. The disruption of the normal balance of colonic microbiota as a consequence of antibiotic use or other stresses can result in C. difficile infection. It is now estimated that 500,000 to 3 million cases of C. …

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Problem-solving governs how we process sensory stimuli

June 25, 2013 — Various areas of the brain process our sensory experiences. How the areas of the cerebral cortex communicate with each other and process sensory information has long puzzled neuroscientists. Exploring the sense of touch in mice, brain researchers from the University of Zurich now demonstrate that the transmission of sensory information from one cortical area to connected areas depends on the specific task to solve and the goal-directed behavior. These findings can serve as a basis for an improved understanding of cognitive disorders.In the mammalian brain, the cerebral cortex plays a crucial role in processing sensory inputs. The cortex can be subdivided into different areas, each handling distinct aspects of perception, decision-making or action. The somatosensory cortex, for instance, comprises the part of the cerebral cortex that primarily processes haptic sensations. The different areas of the cerebral cortex are interconnected and communicate with each other. A central, unanswered question of neuroscience is how exactly do these brain areas communicate to process sensory stimuli and produce appropriate behavior. A team of researchers headed by Professor Fritjof Helmchen at the University of Zurich’s Brain Research Institute now provides an answer: The processing of sensory information depends on what you want to achieve. The brain researchers observed that nerve cells in the sensory cortex that connect to distinct brain areas are activated differentially depending on the task to be solved.Goal-directed processing of sensory informationIn their publication in Nature, the researchers studied how mice use their facial whiskers to explore their environment, much like we do in the dark with our hands and fingers. …

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Scientists date prehistoric bacterial invasion still present in today’s plant and animal cells

June 19, 2013 — Long before Earth became lush, when life consisted of single-celled organisms afloat in a planet-wide sea, bacteria invaded the ancient ancestors of plants and animals and took up permanent residence. One bacterium eventually became the mitochondria that today power all plant and animal cells; another became the chloroplast that turns sunlight into energy in green plants.A new analysis by two University of California, Berkeley, graduate students more precisely pinpoints when these life-changing invasions occurred, placing the origin of photosynthesis in plants hundreds of millions of years earlier than once thought.”When you are talking about these really ancient events, scientists have estimated numbers that are all over the board,” said coauthor Patrick Shih. Estimates of the age of eukaryotes — cells with a nucleus that evolved into all of today’s plants and animals — range from 800 million years ago to 3 billion years ago.”We came up with a novel way of decreasing the uncertainty and increasing our confidence in dating these events,” he said. The two researchers believe that their approach can help answer similar questions about the origins of ancient microscopic fossils.Shih and colleague Nicholas Matzke, who will earn their Ph.Ds this summer in plant and microbial biology and integrative biology, respectively, employed fossil and genetic evidence to estimate the dates when bacteria set up shop as symbiotic organisms in the earliest one-celled eukaryotes. They concluded that a proteobacterium invaded eurkaryotes about 1.2 billion years ago, in line withearlier estimates.They found that a cyanobacterium — which had already developed photosynthesis — invaded eukaryotes 900 million years ago, much later than some estimates, which are as high as 2 billion years ago.Previous estimates used hard-to-identify microbial fossilsor ambiguous chemical markers in fossils to estimate the time when bacteria entered ancestral eurkaryotic cells, probably first as parasites and then as symbionts. Shih and Matzke realized that they could get better precision by studying today’s mitochondria and chloroplasts, which from their free-living days still retain genes that are evolutionarily related to genes currently present in plant and animal DNA.”These genes, such as ATP synthase — a gene critical to the synthesis of the energy molecule ATP — were present in our single-celled ancestors and present now, and are really, really conserved,” Matzke said. “These go back to the last common ancestor of all living things, so it helps us constrain the tree of life.”Since mitochrondrial, chloroplast and nuclear genes do not evolve at exactly the same rate, the researchers used Bayesian statistics to estimate the rate variation as well as how long ago the bacteria joined forces with eukaryotes. They improved their precision by focusing on plant and animal fossils that have more certain dates and identities than microbial fossils.The paper appeared online on June 17 in advance of publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Matzke also is a member of UC Berkeley’s Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genomics.

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Exercise for stroke patients’ brains

June 11, 2013 — A new study finds that stroke patients’ brains show strong cortical motor activity when observing others performing physical tasks — a finding that offers new insight into stroke rehabilitation.Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a team of researchers from USC monitored the brains of 24 individuals — 12 who had suffered strokes and 12 age-matched people who had not — as they watched others performing actions made using the arm and hand that would be difficult for a person who can no longer use their arm due to stroke — actions like lifting a pencil or flipping a card.The researchers found that while the typical brain responded to the visual stimulus with activity in cortical motor regions that are generally activated when we watch others perform actions, in the stroke-affected brain, activity was strongest in these regions of the damaged hemisphere, and strongest when stroke patients viewed actions they would have the most difficulty performing.Activating regions near the damaged portion of the brain is like exercising it, building strength that can help it recover to a degree.”Watching others perform physical tasks leads to activations in motor areas of the damaged hemisphere of the brain after stroke, which is exactly what we’re trying to do in therapy,” said Kathleen Garrison, lead author of a paper on the research. “If we can help drive plasticity in these brain regions, we may be able to help individuals with stroke recover more of the ability to move their arm and hand.”Garrison, who completed this research while studying at USC and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Yale University School of Medicine, worked with Lisa Aziz-Zadeh of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy; Carolee Winstein, director of the Motor Behavior and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at USC; and former USC doctoral student Sook-Lei Liew and postdoctoral researcher Savio Wong.Their research was posted online ahead of publication by the journal Stroke on June 6.Using action-observation in stroke rehabilitation has shown promise in early studies, and this study is among the first to explain why it may be effective.”It’s like you’re priming the pump,” Winstein said. “You’re getting these circuits engaged through the action-observation before they even attempt to move.” The process is a kind of virtual exercise program for the brain that prepares you for the real exercise that includes the brain and body.The study also offers support for expanding action-observation as a therapeutic technique — particularly for individuals who have been screened using fMRI and have shown a strong response to it.”We could make videos of what patients will be doing in therapy, and then have them watch it as homework,” Aziz-Zadeh said. “In some cases, it could pave the way for them to do better.”

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