What It Really Means When You Dream About Dogs

Dreams about man’s best friend can be cute, cuddly, and make you not want to wake up — that being said, they hold serious symbolic meaning, too. As per Bark Post, dreams about animals are representative of your instincts and hidden nature, examining your “basic feelings, behaviors and reactions.” Specifically, dog dreams give insight into your thoughts about friendship, loyalty, and protection. Dogs in dreams can also have a spiritual meaning, and act as a sign to trust your path, or as an omen to change course (via YourTango).

Dogs in dreams tend to symbolize human relationships, but are also associated with emotions you might be feeling toward a difficult situation in your life (via Aunty Flo). Most often though, dreaming about a dog is a sign that you need to protect someone, or that someone unexpected might be protecting you. Dogs represent good luck in a wide array of cultures: The Celtic people associate hounds with Gaelic gods of healing and a successful hunt, while elements of Chinese mythology believe dogs bring good fortune to a home (via World Birds). It’s no wonder dreaming about dogs is usually seen as a good sign.

It is important to note that the type of dog dream you have can deeply affect its meaning: While dreaming of a happy-go-lucky pup can be a positive signal, an aggressive or biting dog can mean something much different. The place and activity are also deeply significant, as well as the color and breed.

Dreams about happy, energetic dogs

The temperament of the dog you see says multitudes about the meaning of your dream. Whether you know the dream pup or not, a friendly dog can be a symbol of someone in your life guiding or guarding you. As per Aunty Flo, a happy dog is a “sign of recovery,” especially if dealing with anxiety or difficulties in your life. A joyful pup can even signify you will have some luck in the love department soon.

Happy puppies can be representative of a nurturing instinct deep within you. Seeing puppies with their mother can symbolize your own love of nurturing, and even imply a desire to have children (via Aunty Flo). If you are starting a project or business plan, a litter of puppies can symbolize how long it will take to come to fruition, with each puppy representing a six-month period. Seeing just one good-natured puppy may depict your own even-keel personality, your energy in life, or the improvement of a relationship.

As per Bark Post, a happily-barking dog might mean you take pleasure in being social and feeling accepted in a group, or you even might be missing that element of your life.

Dreaming about temperamental dogs

Of course, just like in real life, dream dogs aren’t always perfect — sometimes they are grumpy, aggressive, or can even bite and attack. According to Aunty Flo, this kind of dream has a totally opposite meaning to other kinds of dog dreams. Dreaming about being chased by a dog symbolizes anxiety, or fears about making decisions in your work or love life. This dream can signify pressure or a need to escape, especially if you felt scared while running. Overall, being chased by a dog means you feel burdened, and if it is violent, you’re probably scared of the unknown. Regarding signs for the future, a friendly dog running toward you implies career success, while an aggressive dog chase can mean falling into a trap (via Aunty Flo).

Dreaming about aggressive dogs could mean someone in your life is being disloyal or untrustworthy (via Bark Post). According to The Cut, an angry barking dog could mean you are too demanding, or that you feel someone should take it easier on you. A dream about a dog attack means you have difficulty communicating with others, while a dog-pack attack might mean you need to work on your happiness (via Aunty Flo). Vicious dogs symbolize your own anger toward others, but dreams about dog bites vary in meaning. Leg bites mean a lack of life balance, wrist bites mean being held back, and a hand bite means someone you’re close to might be harming you (via The Cut).

All about dreaming of a dog you know

Who doesn’t love the idea of dreaming of a dog from your past, especially if you still miss them dearly? That being said, this kind of dream is deeply significant in unexpected ways. For one, if you dream about a loving childhood pet, it could signify a need for comfort (via Nolah). Similarly, according to Aunty Flo, dreaming about a dog you previously owned or still have could mean you are “missing something or someone in your life.” Trying to figure out the missing link is paramount, and if you feel overworked, this might be a sign to unwind.

Dreaming about a dog who has passed away might mean they are trying to reconnect with you. According to dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, this kind of mystical dream “could be a visitation of a beloved pet letting you know they’re still around and watching over you,” which harks back to dogs as a symbol of protection (via The Cut). Even more, dreaming about a dog from your past could be your own unique way of “getting closure or trying to remain connected to that animal.”

On the totally opposite end of the spectrum, dreaming about adopting a new dog might mean you feel a need for companionship. If you are gifted a dog in your dream, you can take it as a positive sign: It means you are being protected by a higher power (via Aunty Flo).

Unique dog dream meanings

The meaning of your canine dream can also depend on your activity of choice. According to Bark Post, rubbing a dog’s belly in a dream can mean you feel content in a relationship, and deeply trust your partner. If you’re walking the dog, you may have a bout of success soon and achieve your goals. Seeing someone else walking a dog means you feel in charge of your life, while seeing a dog walking like a human might mean something unexpected will happen soon (via Aunty Flo).

Dreaming about finding a dog may signify a need for companionship, while a sick dog could symbolize a neglected relationship. Dreaming about an injured dog may mean you’re concerned about your health or friendship, or feel you haven’t taken enough care of your own real-life dog (via The Cut). A dog guiding you could signify you need help getting out of a sticky situation, while giving a dog away means you might be disloyal (via Aunty Flo). Dreaming about a pack of dogs is a sure sign of a need for belonging, especially if you are part of the pack (via Bark Post).

Giving a dog a bath in your dream means you are nurturing, while seeing a dog chase its tail means you are not dealing with an issue properly (via Aunty Flo). If your dream was more surreal, a two-headed dog means you are energetic, while a three-headed dog means a new beginning (via Aunty Flo).

Meanings by the dog's color and breed

Just like temperament, a dog’s color and breed are incredibly significant when it comes to interpreting your pup-centered dream. For one, a black dog is connected to evil and death, but before you get too scared, it could also mean several life possibilities (via Aunty Flo). Black dogs are associated with bad weather, and English mythology describes a large black dog with flaming eyes that could give your dream a foreboding significance. This shade could also signify dishonesty or worrying about a friend.

On the other side of the spectrum, a white dog is a symbol for purity, and either means you have good intentions, or should protect a treasured friendship. If your dog is multicolored, you could feel disapproval towards someone, or feel isolated (via Aunty Flo). In terms of breeds, Bark Post explains that dreaming of dachshunds denotes your loyalty and rationality. German shepherds mean you are feeling protective, while golden retrievers should be taken as a good sign regarding a friendship.

If you dream of a cute pug, you are probably a playful person and might need to be more open to change. A Siberian husky signifies someone is about to be especially loyal towards you, and that you made the right decisions in your life. Bulldogs are the ultimate indicator of difficult on the outside and emotional on the inside, while dreaming of Yorkshire terriers means you need to lose your fear and up your confidence in life.

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I almost terminated my pregnancy due to severe vomiting and nausea

The moment I considered terminating my pregnancy was one the lowest of my life.

I wanted my baby but I was 12 weeks pregnant with my third child and had been suffering with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) – a complication in pregnancy characterised by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and dehydration – almost since the start of the pregnancy.

In 2017, I’d spent nearly three months bed-bound, unable to do anything but throw up and sleep. It was hard to even hug my children as I couldn’t stand their smell. I also couldn’t face going into the kitchen because any thoughts of food made me sick.

I was lucky that my doctor understood it wasn’t just morning sickness, but the medication he’d given wasn’t working. I’d had enough; I’d reached breaking point and my thoughts turned to termination.

I was devastated but felt like the baby was killing me and that I had to make a choice.

Unfortunately, the sad reality of HG is that many women will feel like they’re going through it alone – that’s why we need to speak up about our experiences.

Around 13 weeks, I experienced severe pains and thought I was having a miscarriage. Once at the hospital, tests showed I had a UTI; the baby was fine, and I was relieved. While there, I was prescribed another antiemetic, Metoclopramide, in addition to my existing trio of medication, Prochlorperazine, Cyclizine and Ondansetron.

These medications are used to treat and prevent nausea, vomiting and sometimes dizziness. Usually Ondansetron is used for the treatment of vomiting and nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

The effect was instantaneous: we had finally found the combination that worked for me. I was sent home full of hope. I was so thankful to have not gone through with the termination.

I needed these four medications around the clock, setting my alarm at 2am and 4am to take my tablets otherwise I would feel horrendous. They slowed the sickness down but didn’t stop it completely; I was still sick up to 10 times a day. 

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is more severe than morning sickness and, though the symptoms may get better after week 20 of pregnancy, for many women it lasts the duration.

I suffered all the way through in all three of my pregnancies. I didn’t gain much weight because of the vomiting and struggled to keep water down so I was always anxious about the baby’s health.

When I had my first baby at 26, I had never heard of HG. I was very sick but continued working full-time as I thought what I was experiencing was normal. No one ever mentioned HG to me, not even my midwife when I questioned her.

It was very difficult: I was sick all the time – day and night – I couldn’t drink, and barely ate. I suffered headaches from dehydration, anxiety, and depression. I was terrified; I was becoming a first-time mum and felt helpless.

With my second pregnancy, I didn’t think I would suffer as much. But I was wrong, it was worse.

I was diagnosed with HG 13 weeks into my pregnancy and given Prochlorperazine and Cyclizine, which took the edge off, but I was too scared to ask for more help for fear of not being believed. It felt good to have a diagnosis but I also felt that it had taken too long to get the help I needed.

I was housebound for months, the only time I went anywhere was for hydration therapy, which was at the hospital. This is a simple treatment that delivers fluids directly into your bloodstream through a small IV inserted into your arm. It was incredibly difficult to care for my daughter while being pregnant.

Five years later, we tried for our third baby. We were both very apprehensive about trying for another child but we really wanted to add to our family. It took a lot of effort to overcome the fear of HG happening again.

This pregnancy was by far the worst. I visited my GP before even becoming pregnant, to make sure he was aware of what could happen and got a promise of the help I would need.

I didn’t need a test to know I was pregnant. I was unwell for two weeks, struggling to eat or drink, and was very nauseous. A few days later I was bed-bound again, only leaving to go to hospital for hydration therapy.

This helped, but a vicious circle of trying to drink, vomiting, becoming dehydrated and going back to hospital every few days would start over. The isolation was horrific; my husband took care of the children, taking them to school before work.

I was alone all day, in bed with no one to talk to for months, and only a sick bowl for company. I’ll never forget it; it was the worst time of my life. After I was prescribed Metopclopramide, I was able to slowly leave my bed and do more during the day. It took weeks to get any of my strength back. 

At 37 weeks, a consultant recommended I be induced due to very low levels of amniotic fluid around the baby, caused by my dehydration. I was relieved by the suggestion because I just couldn’t take the sickness anymore.

HG symptoms are supposed to disappear once the placenta has been delivered. Unfortunately, I was still regularly sick until a fortnight later.

I’d felt sick after my first two births but hadn’t actually thrown up. This time I was violently sick.

This affected my long-term recovery; I couldn’t believe that I’d spent almost nine months vomiting nearly 20 times a day and it was still happening.

My mental health was affected, I became anxious, terrified of everything, with feelings of dread every morning. I started to feel like it would be better if I wasn’t here, so the pain would go away.

Luckily, I sought help and my GP gave me anti-anxiety medication and I slowly recovered. But the waves of anxiety have never gone completely, even three years later. These days I find I can use breathing techniques and talk it over, either with my counsellor or my family.

A side-effect of my HG was a hiatus hernia in my chest, from the constant vomiting. This means I have been on additional medication too, to combat the reflux. Thankfully, the hernia has now been repaired, but it’s scary to think about what this condition in pregnancy can do to your body.

One way I found out about HG was through the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS). Passionate about raising awareness, they help women suffering to know that they aren’t alone, that HG is different to morning sickness, and support is available.

Their work is incredible: the help I got was invaluable and I am now paying it forward by volunteering with them myself.

PSS provide a peer supporter who has experienced HG themselves for your whole pregnancy to give advice and support when it’s needed most. They advocate for women who are too weakened to fight for themselves.

It’s thought that around one to three in every 100 women gets HG but the exact figure isn’t known as some cases may go unreported, according to the NHS website.

Not everyone gets the help I got. Awareness and understanding of HG is severely lacking among some professionals, despite official recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

These recommendations include guidelines for diagnosis and monitoring of HG and for their severity to be assessed, as well as combinations of different medications that should be used. 

Until this changes, women are still being told to ‘think positive’, ‘try eating/drinking ginger’ or that ‘being sick is a healthy sign’.

Ginger is banned from my house – research has shown that it doesn’t necessarily help with sickness for women with HG, can cause unpleasant side effects and being constantly told to try it can make you feel like you’re not being taken seriously. 

Women will not go through with wanted pregnancies, because of the debilitating symptoms, if they don’t get the help they need.

I am currently contemplating my fourth baby and I can only hope that with support from my GP and PSS, I can manage the symptoms of HG and have a healthier, happier pregnancy this time around.

Saturday 15 May is Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day and Pregnancy Sickness Support is encouraging women to share their #HGTruths.

For more information about the work PSS does, visit their website here or call the information line on 024 7638 2020.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

Share your views in the comments below.

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Over a Quarter of EU Adults Would Refuse COVID-19 Shot, Survey Says

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – More than a quarter of adults in the European Union would be unlikely to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it was offered to them, a survey published on Thursday showed.

The results also suggested a strong link between vaccine hesitancy and the use of social media, particularly where social media is the main source of information, according to Eurofound which carried out the survey.

“Unfortunately, these findings reflect a failure to deliver persuasive and clear communication regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines,” said Daphne Ahrendt, Eurofound senior research manager.

Bulgarians were the most reluctant to get the vaccine, with 67% of adults saying they were unlikely or very unlikely to get it. In Ireland, only 10% of adults said they would not get the shot.

The survey found an east-west divide across Europe. Except for France and Austria, the intention to get vaccinated was above 60% in all Western member states – with Nordic and Mediterranean countries, Denmark and Ireland having even higher rates.

The rate of planned uptake in Eastern member states was much lower, ranging from 59% in Romania to 33% in Bulgaria.

The main influence on vaccine hesitancy was the time spent on social media and which medium was used, the survey said. The proportion rises to 40% among those who use social media as their primary source of news.

Among people who used traditional media including press, radio and television, only 18% of respondents were vaccine sceptics.

The survey also found that students, employed or retired people were less vaccine hesitant than average, while 39% of unemployed people or those with a long-term disease of disability were more hesitant.

The survey was conducted between February and March 2021, after a full year of living with COVID-19 restrictions across the bloc’s 27 member states.

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Who Decides if the World Needs COVID-19 Booster Shots?

(Reuters) – Vaccine makers Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc, with its German partner BioNTech, have been vocal in their view that the world will soon need COVID-19 booster shots to maintain high levels of immunity. What is less clear, however, is who should make that decision – and based on what evidence.

THE MODEL FOR FLU VACCINES

Public health officials have a well-coordinated mechanism, first established in 1952, for determining when seasonal flu vaccines should be updated to cope with fast-mutating strains of influenza.

The World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System gathers data collected by national health authorities on circulating flu strains and, twice a year, uses that information to select the strains manufacturers should include in seasonal shots for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Some experts have suggested a similar model could be used to gather data on COVID-19 variants and advise drugmakers on what to include in vaccine updates.

However, another approach could be to mimic what happens with updates of many other infectious disease vaccines – where decisions are based primarily on what the drugmakers perceive is required. National health authorities are then free to assess clinical trial data and decide whether a particular version of a vaccine should be used in their country.

Currently, COVID-19 vaccine makers are taking this approach, making the call to develop and test variant-specific booster shots, and leaving it up to governments to buy them as they see fit.

WHAT EVIDENCE WILL BE NEEDED?

Some vaccine experts say there needs to be clear evidence that the current COVID-19 vaccines are failing to prevent infections and severe disease before countries embark on repeat nationwide vaccination campaigns.

They argue the decision on booster shots should be guided by data showing how vaccines perform in people in clinical trials and real-world settings, as well as in lab studies showing declining levels of antibodies in blood samples from vaccinated people.

So far, COVID-19 vaccine makers have shown that their shots offer strong protection for at least six months. But immunity may vary. Older people, for example, or those with compromised immune systems, may need boosters earlier than younger people with more robust immune systems.

Another important dataset known as “correlates of protection” – evidence from clinical trials showing the threshold level of antibodies required for vaccines to be protective – could help policymakers decide on whether boosters are needed, but this data is not yet available.

ADAPTED FOR A COVID-19 WORLD

Globally, the World Health Organization is putting together an expert advisory panel which would evaluate ongoing evidence on COVID-19 vaccine durability and emerging variants and then offer guidance for governments.

Although some experts have noted possible similarities with the global mechanism for updating flu vaccines, they also stress that it will need to be adapted for a COVID-19 world. More likely, they say, is that global guidance will be adapted by nations or regions to target local needs.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing its own risk assessment framework to determine what evidence is needed to recommend a modified vaccine.

The CDC and other U.S. health agencies have their own studies underway to assess vaccine efficacy, including in older populations and children, and monitor the impact of new variants.

In Britain, Public Health England and the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control are working with global agencies on an “Agility Project” to track and test the impact of viral mutations and new variants on COVID-19 vaccine development.

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The mechanism of action of genes with high mutation frequency in cancer

tumor

After the p53 tumor suppressor gene, the genes most frequently found mutated in cancer are those encoding two proteins of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex. This complex’s function is to ‘accommodate’ the histones that cover the DNA of the chromosomes so that the processes of transcription, DNA repair and replication or chromosome segregation can occur, as appropriate. A group from the University of Seville has demonstrated at CABIMER that the inactivation of BRG1, the factor responsible for the enzymatic activity of the SWI/SNF complexes, leads to high genetic instability, a characteristic common to the vast majority of tumors.

This study’s most important contribution is that it deciphers the mechanism by which this occurs. The SWI/SNF complex is necessary for cells to resolve the conflicts that occur in chromosomes when the transcription and replication machineries collide at the same site and hinder each other. If any part of the SWI/SNF complex is mutated, DNA replication is defective and chromosomal breaks occur, largely promoted by the accumulation of DNA-RNA hybrids at the sites where conflicts occur.

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BERENICE: Further Evidence of Heart Safety of Dual HER2 Blockade

Dual HER2 blockade with pertuzumab (Perjeta) and trastuzumab (Herceptin) on top of anthracycline-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer was associated with a low rate of clinically relevant cardiac events in the final follow-up of the BERENICE study.

After more than 5 years, 1.0%-1.5% of patients who had locally advanced, inflammatory, or early-stage breast cancer developed heart failure, and around 12%-13% showed any significant changes in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).

Importantly, “there were no new safety concerns that arose during long-term follow-up,” study investigator Chau Dang, MD, said in presenting the findings at the European Society for Medical Oncology: Breast Cancer virtual meeting.

Dang, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, reported that the most common cause of death was disease progression.

BERENICE was designed as a cardiac safety study and so not powered to look at long-term efficacy, which Dang was clear in reporting. Nevertheless event-free survival (EFS), invasive disease-free survival (IDFS), and overall survival (OS) rates at 5 years were all high, at least a respective 89.2%, 91%, and 93.8%, she said. “The medians have not been reached,” she observed.

“These data support the use of dual HER2 blockade with pertuzumab-trastuzumab–based regimens, including in combination with dose-dense, anthracycline-based chemotherapy, across the neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment settings for the complete treatment of patients with HER2-positive early-stage breast cancer,” Dang said.

Evandro de Azambuja, MD, PhD, the invited discussant for the trial agreed that the regimens tested appeared “safe from a cardiac standpoint.” However, “you cannot forget that today we are using much less anthracyclines in our patient population.”

Patients in trials are also very different from those treated in clinical practice, often being younger and much fitter, he said. Therefore, it may be important to look at the baseline cardiac medications and comorbidities, de Azambuja, a medical oncologist at the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels, Belgium, suggested.

That said, the BERENICE findings sit well with other trials that have been conducted, de Azambuja pointed out.

“If we look at other trials that have also tested dual HER2 blockade with anthracycline or nonanthracycline regimens, all of them reassure that dual blockade is not more cardiotoxic than single blockade,” he said. This includes trials such as TRYPHAENA, APHINITY, KRISTINE, NeoSphere and PEONY.

The 3-year IDFS rate of 91% in BERENICE also compares well to that seen in APHINITY (94%), de Azambuja said.

BERENICE Study Design

BERENICE was a multicenter, open-label, nonrandomized and noncomparative phase 2 trial that recruited 400 patients across 75 centers in 12 countries.

Eligibility criteria were that participants had to have been centrally confirmed HER2-positive locally advanced, inflammatory or early breast cancer, with the latter defined as tumors bigger than 2 cm or greater than 5 mm in size, and be node-positive. Patients also had to have a starting LVEF of 55% or higher.

Patients were allocated to one of two neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens depending on the choice of their physician. One group received a regimen of dose-dense doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (ddAC) given every 2 weeks for four cycles and then paclitaxel every week for 12 cycles. The other group received 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide (FEC) every 3 weeks for four cycles and then docetaxel every 3 weeks for four cycles.

Pertuzumab and trastuzumab were started at the same time as the taxanes in both groups and given every 3 weeks for four cycles. Patients then underwent surgery and continued pertuzumab/trastuzumab treatment alone for a further 13 cycles.

The co-primary endpoints were the incidence of New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure and incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic LVEF decline of 10% or more.

The primary analysis of the trial was published in 2018 and, at that time, it was reported that three patients in the ddAC cohort and none in the FEC cohort experienced heart failure. LVEF decline was observed in a respective 6.5% and 2% of patients.

Discussion Points

De Azambuja noted that the contribution of the chemotherapy to the efficacy cannot be assessed because of the nonrandomized trial design. That should not matter, pointed out Sybille Loibl, MD, PhD, during discussion.

“I think it compares nicely to other trials that looked at dose-dense chemotherapy,” said Loibl, who is an associate professor at the University of Frankfurt in Germany. “It seems that, in the light of what we consider today probably one of the best anti-HER2 treatments, the chemotherapy is less relevant, and that’s why a dose-dense regimen doesn’t add so much on a standard anthracycline taxane-containing regimen.”

De Azambuja also commented on the assessment of cardiotoxicity and the use of reduced LVEF as a measure: LVEF decline is a late effect of cardiotoxicity, he observed, and he suggested a different approach in future trials.

“If you use Global Longitudinal Strain, this could be an optimal parameter to detect early subclinical LVEF dysfunction and you should consider it for the next trials looking for cardiac safety. Also, cardiac biomarkers. This was not implemented in this trial, and I strongly recommend this should be for the next trial.”

The BERENICE trial was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche. Dang disclosed receiving consultancy fees from F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Genentech, Daiichi Sankyo, Lilly, and Puma Biotechnology. de Azambuja was not involved in the study but disclosed receiving honoraria, travel grants, research grants from Roche and Genentech as well as from other companies. Loibl was one of the cochairs of the session and, among disclosures regarding many other companies, has been an invited speaker for Roche and received reimbursement via her institution for a writing engagement.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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Biogen's experimental eye treatment fails to meet study goal

(Reuters) -Biogen Inc’s gene therapy for an inherited retinal disease that leads to progressive vision loss did not meet the main goal of a study, a development that increases focus on an upcoming decision on its under-review Alzheimer’s drug.

The experimental treatment, BIIB112, did not show significant improvement in a mid-to-late stage study in retinal sensitivity in patients with X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, a rare eye condition that has no approved treatments.

Biogen is betting on gene therapies to diversify its portfolio as its top-selling multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, faces increased generic competition and uncertainty over approval of its Alzheimer’s drug, aducanumab.

It acquired BIIB112 through its $800 million deal for gene therapy company Nightstar Therapeutics, and recently signed a research collaboration with Capsigen to develop gene therapies for central nervous system and neuromuscular disorders.

The trial results will likely remind investors of the high-risk nature of Biogen’s pipeline, RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams said, despite the program having a low relevance to the company’s future revenue.

“Investor focus likely remains squarely on aducanumab’s PDUFA (FDA’s decision date) next month.”

Aducanumab, seen as a potential blockbuster if approved, has had a bumpy regulatory road.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to decide on the drug by June 7 after delaying it from March and the regulator’s outside experts voted against aducanumab last year.

BIIB112 showed positive trends in improving visual sharpness under low light conditions and Biogen is analyzing the complete data to decide the next steps.

The company’s shares were down 1.6% in a higher broader market.

The study data is the latest setback in the gene therapy field in recent months.

In March, Roche stopped late-stage trials of its gene therapy for Huntington’s disease after an independent data monitoring committee questioned whether the drug’s benefits outweighed its risks.

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Poor maternal heart health results in preterm birth, low birthweight, cesarean birth

Childbirth

With researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston, James Muchira, a postdoctoral fellow in the Vanderbilt School of Nursing, has confirmed the correlation between poor maternal cardiovascular health and adverse childbirth outcomes.

For every heart health risk factor a mother has, likelihood of an adverse childbirth outcome—defined as preterm birth, low birthweight and cesarean birth—increases. Clustering of risk factors is more likely found among women who are not college educated, who have an annual income of less than $40,000 and who identify as non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Natives. Maternal high blood pressure is the strongest predictor of an adverse childbirth outcome.

The research acknowledges that “the complex history and persistent racial discrimination in the U.S. health care system have led to disparities in health outcomes along racial lines. Consequently, preventable pregnancy-related complications account for more deaths in non-Hispanic Black, American Indian/Alaska Native and Puerto Rican women—who also have higher rates of infant mortality and preterm births than non-Hispanic White women. Similarly, racial disparities exist in attaining ideal cardiovascular health, defined by achieving the recommended levels of seven American Heart Association metrics on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, physical activity, BMI, healthy diet and not smoking.”

Typical research on maternal health’s impact on childbirth outcomes looks at a single risk factor or works with a small sample size. By taking a nationally representative sample of U.S. births with four cardiovascular health metrics—diabetes, hypertension, cigarette smoking and body mass index—Muchira has identified the effects of clustering maternal cardiovascular health risk factors and how race/ethnicity plays into childbirth outcomes.

“We intend to further research how early risk factors for cardiovascular disease begin in infants and to quantitatively define the connections between maternal health and child heart health outcomes,” Muchira said. He is beginning to conduct an epigenetic study to find markers for cardiovascular disease in mothers that are present in children.

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7 facts women should know to prevent and recognize stroke

stroke

It’s telling that although stroke is the third leading cause of death for women in the U.S., and that twice as many women die of stroke than of breast cancer, most women aren’t aware of these facts.

As is the case with heart attacks, stroke is often perceived as occurring mostly in men—even though women account for 51% of all people worldwide who have experienced a stroke.

That’s why neurologist Sarah Song, MD, MPH of the Rush Stroke Program says it’s essential for women to be savvy when it comes to stroke.

Understanding your risks empowers you to take steps to prevent a stroke. And being aware of the symptoms will enable you to get treatment faster if you do have a stroke, when every second counts.

Whether you’re a woman or have loved ones who are women, Song says knowing these facts can help save lives:

1. Don’t dismiss stroke symptoms

These symptoms are commonly identified with stroke in both men and women:

  • Numbness on one side of the body and/or face
  • Weakness on one side of the body and/or face
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Vertigo, or room-spinning
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding language

If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or another person, call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms don’t cause pain or they go away.

Just remember that “time is brain.” If it is a stroke, the sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of surviving. Prompt treatment also improves your chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery.

2. Strokes in young women are on the rise

It’s true that strokes most often strike older women (and men). But the World Stroke Organization reports that 8% of all strokes—and 4% of all stroke-related deaths—occur in people under the age of 44.

One potential reason is thought to be the increase in obesity among younger women. Studies have shown that women who are obese or have gained more than 44 pounds since age 18 are about 2.5 times more likely to have a stroke than women who maintain a healthy weight.

While obesity is a stroke risk factor on its own, it also contributes to other significant risk factors, including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease—all of which are increasingly common in women today.

Pregnancy and childbirth can also make young women, including transgender women, more vulnerable to stroke.

Most maternal strokes happen within the first few weeks after birth, triggered by blood loss or hormonal changes. Stroke is also associated with certain complications of pregnancy, including infections and preeclampsia. And, generally speaking, clotting activity is heightened during pregnancy; if clots form in the blood vessels of the veins, they can lead to a stroke.

3. Black and Hispanic women have a higher risk of stroke

According to the Office of Minority Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Black women are twice as likely to have a stroke as white women—and more likely to die from a stroke than either white women or Hispanic women.

One reason? High blood pressure, diabetes and obesity—three of the biggest risk factors for stroke—are all more common in Black women than white women.

A lesser known risk factor: sickle cell disease, a genetic disease common in Black Americans (around 1 in 365 Black Americas is born with it). Twenty-five percent of adults with sickle cell disease will suffer a stroke by the age of 45.

Hispanic women, too, experience high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity at higher rates than non-Hispanic white women, putting them at increased risk of both stroke and stroke-related deaths.

Working to improve your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol with lifestyle changes and medications can help reduce the risk not only of stroke, but of heart disease and cancer.

4. Using birth control pills can potentially raise stroke risk

The American Stroke Association reports that women who take birth control pills may be twice as likely to have a stroke as those who don’t. Birth control pills (often referred to as “the pill”) can cause blood clots to develop. In some cases, blood clots can possibly travel to the brain, causing a stroke or heart attack.

Since the stroke risk for healthy young women is low to begin with, you don’t necessarily have to forgo the pill. Your doctor can help determine whether oral contraceptives or another form of birth control is best for you.

That means identifying your other risk factors. If you take oral contraceptives, any additional risk factors—especially smoking—will increase your potential for stroke even more. The risk of stroke related to oral contraceptives also increases with age.

5. There’s a link between migraines and stroke

These crippling headaches—far more common in women than men—have been associated with an increased risk of stroke when accompanied by a migraine aura.

The reasons for this association are not well understood. But from what we do know, aura (where you experience flashes of light, light or noise sensitivity, tingling in the hands or face, partial loss of vision or other symptoms) must be associated with the headache to increase stroke risk. It may also be associated with hormonal changes.

The American Stroke Association says women who experience migraines with aura are up to 10 times more likely to have a stroke, depending on their other risk factors. Smoking and using oral contraceptives, in particular, can increase your risk significantly.

6. Women should watch their waistlines

Studies have shown that postmenopausal women with a waist measuring more than 35.2 inches and a triglyceride (blood fat) level higher than 128 mg/dL have five times the risk of stroke.

And there are other serious health risks associated with an “apple” body shape in women, including heart disease and diabetes.

There are some stroke risk factors you can’t control, like your family history, ethnicity/race and age. So it is helpful instead to focus on the behaviors you can change.

That includes making time to exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help prevent stroke in women, especially if you have other stroke risk factors.

7. A transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke,” is a warning sign

A transient ischemic attack, also known as a TIA or “mini-stroke,” causes the same symptoms as a stroke but lasts only minutes to a few hours.

Even though there may not be lasting effects from a TIA, you should still seek immediate medical help. That includes talking to your doctor about how to prevent a full-blown stroke, because having a TIA puts you at greater risk for having a stroke. A TIA is an opportunity to look for stroke risk factors that could be better controlled.

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UTSA and SA Works study San Antonio youth employment trends

UTSA and SA Works study San Antonio youth employment trends

San Antonio had an above average youth employment rate, then the pandemic struck. Among the top 50 metro areas, San Antonio youth experienced the 8th largest drop in employment in the first year of the pandemic, according to national data research organization Mathematica. What explains this decrease? The top job sectors employing high school students were the hardest hit in the pandemic’s local economic downturn, based on a new study commissioned by SA Works and conducted by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Urban Education Institute (UEI).

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly three out of four students worked for pay at some point during their high school years, according to the study, which analyzed employment trends of approximately 211,000 Bexar County high school students. The project, the first of its kind locally, was a collaboration between the Urban Education Institute and SA Works, the workforce development team within the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation. Funded by The USAA Foundation, Inc., it analyzed employment patterns of Bexar County high school students across nearly two decades.

“It’s critical to have a data-driven approach to our high school internship program and this study provided insights that we will implement to continue to provide meaningful work-based learning opportunities that support youth career readiness and builds on their social capital, said Romanita Matta-Barrera, SA Works executive director. “Furthermore, the pandemic has tightened the job market in the traditional youth employment sectors and this heightens the need for paid internships.”

The top industries employing area high school students have suffered most amid the pandemic: accommodations/food services; retail sales; and arts/entertainment. Historically, 59% of high school students were employed in accommodations and food services; 32% worked in the retail trade; and 16% worked in arts/entertainment/recreation.

“We know that employment provides our youth important growth opportunities. Unfortunately, the sectors where they typically found employment were also the hardest hit by the pandemic. Now is the time redouble our efforts to expand and diversify the jobs and opportunities available to our students, either through part-time jobs, summer internships, or job-shadowing experiences,” said Mike Villarreal, UEI director and assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “We need to get creative. Research has found that workplace learning benefits adolescents in small and big ways. The workplace is often where youth are inspired to pursue a future career and where they learn the norms that adults take for granted.”

Villarreal adds that existing local initiatives such as SA Works, that link students and local employers, should be expanded to build college and career awareness and readiness. He called on employers to build more formalized opportunities with schools and to offer paid internships and apprenticeships, as well as job shadowing and other forms of learning about the workplace.

SA Works provides support to local employers and students to ensure that internship programs are successful and that employers are able to effectively mentor, supervise and engage interns. At 9 a.m. on Wed., May 19, the organization will host a virtual Employer Training Session to share insights for structuring a successful internship program.

For the youth employment trends study, the UEI used student-level, longitudinal data collected by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission and stored at the University of Texas Education Research Center. Researchers also analyzed the Bexar County high school internship landscape as part of the collaboration. Additionally, the team conducted survey interviews with 28 SA Works Summer Internship Program alumni. Local employers also provided insights about the SA Works internship through a series of in-depth interviews.

In summary, the youth employment trend study’s top findings included:

  • Nearly 3 out of 4 high school students worked for pay at some point during their high school years.
  • The top industries employing Bexar County high school students were those hit hardest by the pandemic economic downturn: food services, retail and arts and entertainment.
  • Employment rates for Hispanic, White and Black students were statistically equivalent, but a smaller proportion of Asian students worked during high school.
  • Students with limited English proficiency and students who received special education services were employed at much lower rates, suggesting these two populations need for more support in securing workforce opportunities.
  • High school students spend more time working as they age and spend more time working during the summers at all ages.
  • No statistical difference in completing advanced high school and college preparatory coursework was found between students who worked and those who did not.

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