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These consulting companies have been leaking patient data to advertisers for years



Online alcohol recovery services Monument and Tempest have admitted to sharing private patient information with advertisers for years. as previously reported TechCrunch. IN information disclosure filed with Attorney General of CaliforniaMonument (which acquired Temple in 2022) says the tracking tools used on both services “could share” names, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses, insurance information and more with advertisers.

Monument and Tempest, which provide resources for patients struggling with alcohol addiction, say the leak could also include patients’ self-reported responses to their drinking habits, something similar. speaks clearly “protected” and only used by his care teams. The companies are accused of violating the pixel tracking tools they have placed on their websites for promotional purposes.

Monument says it has reconsidered the use of tracking pixels after the US government issued guidelines for their use to healthcare companies in late 2022. bulletin published The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency is warning healthcare companies that they could be held liable for violating patient privacy using pixel tracking tools.

The Monument and Tempest cases are remarkably similar to recent data breaches involving online healthcare services.

Pixel trackers are code snippets created by companies such as Meta, Google, TikTok, and Pinterest, which are often embedded in ads, websites, or emails. They track information about what the user clicks on or what forms they fill out, which is then used by both parties to create tailored ads or better understand their user base.

As noted in the disclosure, Monument discovered that its pixel-tracking tools had been exposing user information on the Monument site since January 2020, and on Tempest as early as November 2017. Monument says it stopped using “most” tracking tools at the end of 2022 and “completely removed them from Monument sites by February 23, 2023.

In the case of Monument, the amount of information leaked varies from user to user; according to the company, this depends on “the actions you have taken on the site of the monument, the configuration of the tracking technologies”, as well as the configuration of the web browser that accessed the site. Monument says, however, that the leak did not include social security numbers or credit card information and may have affected just over 100,000 people.

“Protecting the privacy of our patients is a top priority,” Monument CEO Mike Russell said in an emailed statement. edge. “We have implemented strong security measures and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure data security. In addition, we have terminated relationships with third party advertisers who do not agree to comply with our contractual requirements and applicable laws.”


Mediterranean monk seal returns | The science



The Mediterranean monk seal begins its life in a cave. Even after growing up to hunt and mate in open water, the seal maintains its monastic lifestyle. These retiring creatures – the only seal species in the Mediterranean region – are among the rarest marine animals in the world, with a population of about 800 individuals. monk seals.

Their ancestors were much more social. IN OdysseyHomer described monk seals huddled together like a herd of sheep. The first-century Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote that seals could be taught to “greet the audience with their voice and bow at the same time.” When the Alsatian naturalist Johann Hermann named the species the “monk seal” in 1779, he was thinking less about the behavior of the animal than about its appearance, noting: “Its smooth, round head resembled a hooded human head.”

After centuries of hunting for fur and oil, monk seals have become shy and few in number. Until recently, the greatest threat was posed by fishermen, who viewed seals as competitors or a nuisance. “They were walking around the village and saying, ‘Today I killed a seal,'” says Dimitris Tsiakalos, coordinator of the non-profit Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of Monk Seals, a non-profit organization commonly known as Motherafter the Latin name of the species, Monkhus Monkhus. “That was what all the fishermen did.”

Such routine killings have become much rarer since the late 1980s, when the IOM began its work. The group sets up cameras in the caves where puppies are born and records sightings of civilians. When someone calls them to report an orphan puppy, MOm staff arrive and take the puppy to a rehab center in Athens. After several months of care, volunteers load the pups onto boats and release them in remote locations where the seals develop their swimming and hunting instincts. By that time, the puppies weigh about 120 pounds or more, making them difficult to lift. “But they are quite cooperative,” Tsiakalos notes fondly. “They don’t try to bite you.”

In recent years, Mediterranean monk seals have recovered so much that the International Union for Conservation of Nature has upgraded their status from Critically Endangered to Endangered. They are returning to places like Croatia and Albania where they have not been for a long time. On the Greek island of Samos, one seal named Argyro felt comfortable enough among people to reclining on sun loungers and hanging out in cafes next to men playing backgammon. Argyro what fired in 2017, which is a sign that seals are still considered a nuisance by some. But her death caused outrage throughout Greece, which shows how much old views have changed.

Tsiakalos was elated when MOM received a call from a fisherman who had found a seal washed ashore during a storm and stayed up all night to keep it warm. “Fisherman!” Tsiakalos emphasizes. “There has been a real shift in mindset. And so the seals are no longer so afraid of people.”

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New study reveals details on 20 different mouse inbred strains



The completion of the complete “telomere-telomere” (T2T) human genome last year showed that genome sequences previously thought to be “complete” were in fact not complete at all. Photo: Jackson Lab.

The completion of the complete “telomere-telomere” (T2T) human genome last year highlighted that genome sequences previously thought to be “complete” were in fact not complete at all.

Moreover, many recent genomes have been sequenced using short read sequencing technologies that fragment the DNA into short segments, typically 150–300 bp long, and then compared to a reference sequence. While fast, accurate and relatively economical short read methodologies typically miss large portions of the genome, about 10% overall. Missing segments include high G/C regions and repetitive sequences including segmental duplications, simple repeats and transposable elements (TEs).

TEs are repetitive sequences that move to other locations in the genome, and the mobility of these sequences contributes greatly to the variability of the genome. Repetitive sequences often underlie the formation of structural variants (SVs), genomic differences resulting from duplications, insertions, deletions, and inversions. SVs are often overlooked when using short read sequencing (particularly those mediated by repeats), but they may play an important role in genome dysregulation and disease.

Researchers have turned to long-read sequencing for a more complete analysis of genomes, as these technologies allow much longer segments of DNA to be sequenced and can accurately display a more complete picture of the genome. Recent advances have increased the accuracy and utility of long reads, allowing researchers to explore previously undiscovered genomic features, and not just in humans.

Jackson Laboratory (JAX) and University of Connecticut Health Center Associate Professor Christine Beck, Ph.D., led a team that examined the genomes of another known species, the mouse, and revealed the details of 20 different inbred strains that will be critical to inform research in genetics and genomics. on mice move forward.

Structural differences between strains of mice

Mice have their own reference genome, known as GRCm39, based on the sequence C57BL/6J, a strain of the Mus musculus domesticus subspecies. But many widely used strains of laboratory mice are also descended from two other subspecies, Mus musculus castaneus and Mus musculus musculus, and there are many genetic differences between different inbred strains.

For work presented in “Resolving Structural Variations in Different Mouse Genomes Reveals Chromatin Remodeling by Transposable Elements” published in Cellular genomics, Dr. Beck selected a wide range of widely used strains, including seven founding parents of genetically diverse panels of Collaborative Cross (CC) and Diversity Outbred (DO) mice, six resulting CC strains with abnormalities of unknown genetic origin, and seven other frequently used strains. with different genetic backgrounds.

Ardian Ferrage, PhD student and lead author of the study, then assembled the genomes of these 20 mice and used these sequences to identify the SVs present in the animals that distinguished their genomes from that of the C57BL/6J reference. Using PAV, a program developed by Beck’s lab associate Dr. Peter Audano, Ardian showed that SVs are predominant in mouse genomes and contribute significantly to genomic variability. In fact, SVs contain almost five times more affected bases than previously published single nucleotide variants from various mouse genomes.

They also found much greater SV diversity between mouse genomes than between human genomes, suggesting that a single reference mouse genome is not suitable for mapping genomic data between mouse strains. Importantly, long read sequencing is vital to capture this variation. In 18 strains of mice, the research team found an additional 213,688 insertions, 64,277 deletions, and 97 inversions in long reads compared to short reads.

Credit: Cellular genomics (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.xgen.2023.100291

Mobile elements and consequences of structural variations

While only small amounts of TEs are still able to mobilize in human genomes, they are more mobile in mice. Because of this, Beck and her team focused on mobile element variants (TEVs), which they found to make up nearly 40% of all SVs, with the majority (60%) being inserts. There are several types of TEVs, known as short and long interspersed nuclear elements (SINE and LINE), which are predictably characterized by their size. LINEs were almost twice as common as SINEs in mouse genomes, from 47% to 24%.

Because of their size, LINEs also account for almost half of the variable sequence content in mouse genomes, compared to only 24% of non-TEV SV and 2.1% of SINE. Various endogenous retroviral sequences generated the remaining 28% of TEVs. Retroviruses are RNA viruses whose genomes are reverse-transcribed into DNA, which is then inserted into the genome. While many modern retroviruses are associated with diseases such as AIDS and cancer, normal mammalian genomes contain large amounts of DNA derived from thousands of years of retroviruses known as endogenous retroviruses or ERVs, which help drive genomic variation in mice.

So what are the possible implications of all this genomic variation and activity? The researchers looked at SV in the context of known genomic features and predicted the severity of the consequences. Of the recently discovered SVs in gene sequences, the vast majority (94,863) were in introns, sequences that are spliced ​​from pre-mRNA so they do not change protein structure; 1469 were in untranslated segments (UTRs) at both ends of the gene; and 510 in actual protein coding sequences.

They also identified a previously undetected insertion of a retroviral element into a specific gene, Mutyh, a DNA repair gene associated with a known mutational signature in certain strains of mice. The underlying variant was unknown, but the team found that the insertion was associated with a significant reduction in Mutyh gene expression. The discovery shows that unknown SVs can alter important regions of the genome and reside in genes associated with traits related to health and function, including disease.

Finally, in collaboration with researcher Jax Dr. Laura Reinholdt, team investigated the effect of TE on embryonic stem cell differences. TEs contribute to genome diversity, and their variations can change important aspects of gene expression between strains. Indeed, the study found more than 22,000 TEVs associated with significant changes in the availability of stem cell chromatin, a key regulator of gene expression, in embryonic stem cells from 10 genetically distinct mouse strains.

Focusing again on a specific example, they examined a strain-specific (CAST/EiJ) intron insertion in the Slc47a2 gene, which was accompanied by a chromatin availability signal unique to the strain. They found increased levels of Slc47a2 expression compared to strains without an insert, with a strain-specific transcript and a possible pluripotency factor binding region, indicating an important role for TEV in early development.

A better understanding

Given the importance of the mouse as a model for mammalian genetics and human disease, it is necessary to fully understand the functional implications of genomic variation. Comprehensive detection and characterization of SV between the genomes of mouse strains is an important part of this understanding, and the results and data obtained by Dr. Beck and her collaborators have taken an important step forward in this area.

The authors have created a sequence resolution SV resource, a mouse embryonic stem cell expression resource, and chromatin availability data for the research community that may aid further research into mouse evolution and the genomics underlying traits of interest.

Christine R. Beck. Resolution of structural variations in different mouse genomes reveals chromatin remodeling due to transposable elements. Cellular genomics (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.xgen.2023.100291. … 2666-979X(23)00057-5

Courtesy of Jackson Lab

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The prosecutor’s office of Paris opened a criminal case over air quality in the subway | Paris



The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case on charges that pollution in the metropolitan metro endangers the lives of travelers.

The subway operator, RATP, is under investigation for possible fraud and unintentional injury after it was alleged to have intentionally downplayed pollution levels and failed to inform passengers of the dangers.

“The time has come to lift the veil of silence and the RATP is telling the users the truth,” Tony Renucci, head of the Respire (Breathe) campaign group, said in a statement on Wednesday announcing the opening of a criminal investigation, which was confirmed by the Paris prosecutor’s office.

The clean air charity filed the lawsuit in 2021 following two separate monitoring investigations.

He accused the RATP of being aware of pollution problems over the past two decades.

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The RATP vehemently denied Respire’s allegations and said it was “constantly and scrupulously” monitoring air quality and taking steps to maintain it.

Last June, the French public health service Anses concluded that the levels of toxic fine particulate matter in the metro are on average three times higher than outside.

Braking particles were of particular concern, Anses said, while pollution was only monitored at three stations across a network of 309 stops.

The RATP said air quality is a “priority” and has an “ambitious action plan” to combat pollution, including installing high-performance fans and electric braking systems to reduce pollution.

According to public health data, about 40,000 premature deaths occur annually in France due to air pollution.

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