Triggerfish and Disney join forces to develop African talent

first_imgTriggerfish Animation, the studio behind South African animated features Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba have partnered with Disney and the dti to develop and showcase new original storytelling talent from Africa. Triggerfish’s Adventures in Zambezia (2012) is one of the top 5 highest-grossing South African films of all time (Image: Triggerfish Animation Studios)• Triggerfish takes on the big boys • See Joburg on the big screen in the new Avengers movie • Filming incentives grow South African movie industry • Nelson Mandela in film• Pint-sized Zuriel Oduwole sets her cap for success CD AndersonCape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Walt Disney Company, for Story Lab, a project that will guide, train and promote new, upcoming creative talent and original story ideas for film and television. Triggerfish will be investing $3.5 million over three years in Story Lab, with plans to release the new productions over the next 4 to 8 years.Story Lab is now open for idea submissions from writers, animators and other innovative creators over the age of 21 from across Africa. Submissions close on 31 August 2015.Idea proposals will be judged by a team of media and creative specialists from Disney and Triggerfish, as well as Peter Lord, creative director for Aardman Animations, Jonathan Roberts, writer of the Lion King and South Africans, writer Gcina Mhlope and comedian David Kau.The top six ideas will be chosen and then developed into full projects. Selected storytellers will potentially have their concepts developed into episodic TV content or an animated feature film for the global market.During the development process, Triggerfish will provide financial support, workspace and guidance from the company and its consultants. Also included in the program is a two-week mentorship program with Disney’s animation and marketing teams in Burbank, California.“We are excited to be supporting Triggerfish on this innovative project,” says Christine Service, senior vice president of The Walt Disney Company (Africa). “We believe Story Lab provides a unique opportunity to discover this continent’s next generation of storytellers.”“The Story Lab will be a great catalyst for African creativity on the global stage,” says Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest. “We look forward to opening up the Triggerfish production platform and our networks to the continent’s top creative talent.”Established in 1996, Triggerfish has been called the “Pixar of South Africa” for their strong emphasis on storytelling and world-class animation in their impressive showcase of short films and commercial work, as well as their two flagship feature films.Adventures in Zambezia and Khumba are among the top 5 highest-grossing South African films of all time, and screened in more than 150 countries, in over 27 languages.Full guidelines and an online application form can be found on the Triggerfish website.last_img read more

South African innovation agency invests R300m

first_img13 November 2015The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) invested in 17 new projects in the 2014/2015 year, according to the organisation’s first annual report. Cash dispersed in project and programme related funding amounted to R371-million over the year.The agency published its report on 6 November at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria; it is planning regionally launches in Durban on 18 November and on 19 November in Cape Town.The strategyBoard chairperson of the Technology Innovation Agency, Khungeka Njobe. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)The strategy adopted by the board for the period 2015 to 2020 emphasized its funding focus in the early parts of the innovation value chain – in particular technology development and pre-commercialisation activities – remained as is, said board chairperson Khungeka Njobe.“Our goal is to ensure that innovation ideas can be shaped into viable technology development projects and that we de-risk the technology innovations for commercialisation funding by our partners,” she said. “To achieve these aims, we have established the following funding mechanisms – the Seed Fund, the Technology Development Fund and the Commercialisation Support Fund.”The TIA looks for investment opportunities in sectors such as mining, health biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, industrial biotechnology, energy, and agricultural biotechnology.Year on year performanceThe graphic shows the various streams where the TIA money is spent. (Image: Technology Innovation Agency)The Parliamentary grant to the TIA decreased by 30%, or R143-million, in the period under review, to R338-million, from R481-million in the previous year. Specific contracted agreements recognised as income in 2014/15 amounted to R51- million, a drop of 18% over the previous year’s amount of R62-million.Other income increased 225% to R83-million, from R26-million in the 2013/14 year. A significant amount of R59-million represented the profit on the sale of an equity investment in an associate company. The TIA’s financial year runs from April to March.Of the amount spent, R371-million, a 4% increase, was for project grants and R15.9-million represented loans. The board said it was satisfied with the performance of the organisation against the predetermined performance objectives and targets, having reached 73%.“We expect that these projects will soon feed into the TIA mainstream Technology Development Fund,” read the report. “A total of 38 innovative products were developed through support provided by the Technology Platforms; eight technologies reached demonstration stage (TRL 7) and six were taken up by the market.”Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the Technology Innovation Agency.(Image: Technology Innovation Agency)Barlow Manilal, the chief executive officer of the TIA, was positive about this year’s report. “We are now well-positioned to continue, in an accelerated manner, with the numerous impressive projects contained in the annual report.“There are also significant process improvements to augment governance and the control environment so that the clean audit achieved in the period under review becomes the organisational standard,” he said.“Strategic partnerships, collaboration, high yield synergistic relationships, both nationally, on the African continent and further afield, will be a key focus as we play a role to position South Africa for greater localisation and beneficiation in support of the National Development Plan goals.”He added that the agency’s five-year strategic plan had been approved and this would guide the organisation forward.The TIA is a statutory body. Its vision is to be a world-class, leading technology innovation agency that stimulates and supports technological innovation to improve quality of life for all South Africans. This is in line with South Africa’s National Development Plan for skills development, to ensure a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path.According to the agency, it primarily uses South Africa’s science and technology base to develop new industries, create sustainable jobs and help to diversify the economy. It invests in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, industrial biotechnology, health, mining, energy and information and communications technology.More information on the TIA’s funding guidelines can be found reporterlast_img read more

Holden Home Ground Advantage

first_imgCould your club do with a financial boost?There’s only one month to go until the summer round of Holden’s Home Ground Advantage program closes!In 2014 Holden announced a $5 million commitment to support local sporting clubs across Australia over the next 10 years. Each year, a summer and winter round will award $250,000 worth of grants.The program is open to all community sporting clubs including, of course, Touch Football! Projects can be small or big, with one club being awarded $100,000 and additional funds provided for smaller worthy projects each round.So what could your club do with? Grants are awarded for uniforms, equipment and ground and facility upgrades.Applications for the current summer round close Monday, 29 February 2016 so jump online to to apply.Related LinksHolden Home Groundlast_img read more

24 days agoMan Utd midfielder Matic remains a target for Inter Milan

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd midfielder Matic remains a target for Inter Milanby Paul Vegas24 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic remains a target for Inter Milan.Calciomercato says with Matic’s deal at Old Trafford due for expiry in the summer, that Conte would be interested in a move for the Serbian if he was available on a free transfer. United do have the option to extend his current deal by another year but it remains unclear if the club intend to exercise their option. Matic is free to speak to clubs outside of England as early as January and while Inter are looking to end Juventus’ run of eight straight Serie A titles, they could reach a pre-contract agreement with Matic with a look ahead to 2020-21. last_img read more

Tragedy at Perisher

first_imgA male guest at Perisher ski resort died shortly after colliding with a tree on the morning of Sunday 8 August 2010.The small Perisher community is shocked and saddened by the tragic death, which occurred as the guest was skiing with his family on an intermediate blue run in the resort’s Guthega area.The scene was promptly attended by staff from Perisher Ski Patrol, NSW Ambulance and Perisher Medical Centre.”Everyone at Perisher is so deeply saddened by this horrible accident and we extend our sincere condolences to family and friends,” Perisher’s CEO, Peter Brulisauer said.”Over 10,000 visitors were enjoying Perisher today under a brilliant blue sky. Skiing together as a family in such great weather is a truly wonderful activity, but in this instance it has unfortunately ended so tragically.”A report for the Coroner will be prepared by the police. <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.Clast_img read more

In This Issue…   Retail sales rise   ESM give

first_imgIn This Issue… *  Retail sales rise *  ESM gives it to Cyprus *  Loonie hitches a ride *  Brazil by itself And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! April sales number took control… Good day…and welcome to Tuesday morning. It looks like spring is finally here to stay in the Midwest, or should I say hopefully, after a fairly chilly start of the season. I overheard someone talking on the desk that it has been the third coldest spring on record so far, but I’ll take that any day of the week instead of oppressive heat. The US dollar’s grip on the currency market remained firm, but most currencies were in a tight range for a majority of the day. The string of dollar strength continued as one of the heavy weight data prints from this week, which was retail sales, came in better than expected. That’s right, the April headline retail sales figure rose 0.1% and that was after the March number had been revised down to -0.5% from the original printing of -0.4%. This month’s figure was expected to come in at -0.3%, so it’s well above the initial forecast but I would call it a wash since the downward revision would offset the gain. Regardless, the financial markets liked the news but the impact was more muted than what I would have thought as stocks finished the day flat. Digging a little deeper into the results, the retail sales control group rose 0.5% from the upward revised March number of 0.1%. This report doesn’t include items such as gasoline and automobiles, but it does get used to calculate GDP so this will be the figure most economists focus on. In fact, 9 of the 13 sales categories yielded positive results, so it was a fairly broad scale increase. One of the few soft spots came from gas station receipts as lower fuel prices in April kept total sales grounded. According to AAA, regular gasoline in April averaged $3.55 as opposed to $3.69 in March. The one component in negative territory was the ex-auto report as it yielded a -0.1% result. With the better than expected April, economists are starting to increase their second quarter consumer spending calls, but they still remain on the tempered side. The continued effects of the higher payroll tax was one of the biggest reasons why initial estimates were lower. We also saw the measure of March business inventories remain static, but this report gets overlooked anyway unless there is any significant movement. The data cupboard is pretty bare today as we only see a gauge of small business optimism and the April import price index. The April business sentiment is expected to recoup most of last month’s decline after small business had indicated they had no plans of expansion or new job growth in the coming months. Most economists are thinking the higher April jobs number will sway small business into feeling more confident, but if you recall, the BLS added a ton of jobs to the report. Either way, small business is a huge part of the economy so we’ll see if there is any follow through. The cost of imported goods into the US are expected to match the March monthly number and show a decline on an annual basis. The average price of oil in March was $92.96 and the average in April was $92.07, so it would seem reasonable for import prices to remain subdued. The import price index is one of three monthly price or inflation reports that are released. We’ll see producer prices and consumer prices tomorrow and Thursday respectively. At the end of the day, we won’t see any market moving data out of the US today, so unless we get significant news elsewhere, I would expect things to continue floating in the same direction. I saw a report by the San Francisco Fed that studied the US labor participation rate and came to the conclusion it may take a few years before cyclical components apply upward pressure since payroll employment remains well below its pre-recession peak. The ratio was 63.6% in April and was the lowest level since May 1979. This figure has been one of the key reasons why the unemployment rate has dropped while employment gains have remained below levels that would justify such moves. The report went on to say that in the recoveries from the ’81-’82 and ’90-’91 recessions, the positive relationship didn’t emerge until the economy had passed the previous employment peak by a substantial margin. Anyway, I found that bit of info interesting. Moving over to currencies, the USD remained in the driver’s seat for another day as only one currency, the Brazilian real, finished the day firmly in positive territory. There were quite a few currencies within a fraction of a percent from gains, but as I mentioned up top, most currencies traded in a narrow window. The recent trading trend has been rewarding the dollar with positive US economic data as many feel it would force the Fed’s hand in reducing stimulus measures. I’m not sure it’s that easy, but that’s the current trend. The euro ended the day just barely in the red, but what I found more profound was its extremely tight range. In fact, the difference between the high and low of the day was less than 0.50% as it topped out at 1.30 and bottomed at 1.2942. I don’t recall seeing such non-eventful data for the euro in a while, so it was all about the US story. Some of the peripheral bond yields, such as Italian and Spanish debt, ticked a little higher as indications arise that austerity measures might get scaled back in order to support higher growth. In other words, interest rate cuts and other measures are limited so go for the low hanging fruit. The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) said that Cyprus received its first bailout payment yesterday. They said the small island nation received 2 billion euros and they could get as much as 1 billion more in June. The ESM also announced the go ahead for additional aid to Greece. The official approval should come within the next few days, but Greece should get 4.2 billion euros very soon and then another 3.3 billion in June would hinge on certain requirements. A deeper recession is staring European leaders right in the face, so things could change at any point and bailouts could be easier to come by. Speaking of Europe, the pound sterling lost just under 0.5% on the day. The currency was actually trading in positive territory prior to the release of the US sales number as the Confederation of British Industry maintained its growth outlook for the next couple of years. They are calling for economic growth to come in at 1% this year and increase to 2% in 2014, while the eurozone is expected to wallow in a negative growth pattern for the time being. The Australian dollar had another rough day as it turned in the worst score yesterday with nearly a 0.75% loss. This time, it was a negative printing of April business confidence that pushed it over the edge. Obviously the bout of dollar strength is pushing it in the wrong direction anyway, but the report’s lowest reading since November did the rest. In the end, the Aussie finished the day below parity and traders continue pricing in another rate cut by gov’t officials. I’m still of the opinion they will take a wait and see approach with any increase and Chinese activity going a long way to ease some of the pain. The Canadian dollar finished the day in second place and oh so close to a positive number solely on the coattails of the US retail sales result. Since most of Canadian commerce is with the US, we definitely saw the spillover effect at play, in spite of another down day for commodities. You would have thought the Mexican peso to be caught up in the same wave, but that speculation of an impending rate cut by the central bank kept it in the cellar. Speaking of rate cuts, I saw an interesting stat where we have seen 511 interest rate cuts globally since June 2007. That’s a lot of cutting. And finally, the Brazilian real did turn in the best performance of the day with just over a 0.5% gain as speculation mounts that the central bank may intervene in the currency market to induce currency appreciation. Inflation has been on the rise so an appreciating currency goes a long way in keeping it under wraps. I guess comments last week from the central bank has fueled the fire as policy makers said they will do whatever is needed to slow inflation. They did hike interest rates last month, but more action may be needed in order to increase their comfort level, hence the currency. Trying to keep up with this central bank will make your head spin. As I came in this morning, things are pretty close to where I left them last night and most currencies aren’t starting the day in a deep hole. As I mentioned, it’s shaping up to be a quiet day unless feathers get ruffled abroad so the focus will soon shift over the to the data reports tomorrow. The dollar has slightly gained some traction since I’ve been writing, but nothing significant so far.  Then there was this…According to an article in CNN Money, a poll finds that government spending cuts have public support in Europe. It said that despite the pain brought by austerity policies, the people of Europe said that bringing down government spending is the proper solution to the region’s economic problems. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that 6 of the 8 countries surveyed had overwhelmingly expressed that government debt is a big problem. To recap…The US dollar had yet another day in the sun as April retail sales came in higher than expected. The report used in calculating GDP came in positive and much higher than expected, so some economists are updating their consumer spending numbers. We won’t see much in the way of US data today but the San Fran Fed talked about the participation rate in the labor market. The currency market traded in a tight range and the ESM authorizes payment to Cyprus. The Aussie had yet another rough day but the Brazilian real was the only currency firmly in positive territory on the day. Currencies today 5/14/13. American Style: A$ $.9929, kiwi .8244, C$ .9876, euro 1.2966, sterling 1.5276, Swiss $1.0445, . European Style: rand 9.2070, krone 5.8207, SEK 6.6690, forint 227.74, zloty 3.2122, koruna 19.9451, RUB 31.3423, yen 101.67, sing 1.2403, HKD 7.7618, INR 54.7725, China 6.2035, pesos 12.1758, BRL 2.0080, Dollar Index 83.28, Oil $94.85, 10-year 1.90%, Silver $23.43, and Gold. $1,429.00 That’s it for today…I was looking at the box score of the Cards-Mets game last night and I was surprised to see former pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel in the lineup. He had one heck of a curveball back in the day but lost it and could never find his stuff. After needing a jacket yesterday morning, it looks like we’ll need to kick on the A/C here in STL as its supposed to be close to 90 degrees today. It feels like I’m missing something by not getting ready for a Blues game, but that will have to wait for next season. Anyway, that does it for me today, so until tomorrow, Have a Great Day! Mike Meyer Assistant Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837last_img read more

A pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Ch

first_imgA pipe was the only sign of drug use found near Chris Bennett’s body in November. But it looked like the 32-year-old Taunton, Mass., native had stopped breathing and died of an opioid overdose. Bennett’s mother, Liisa, couldn’t understand what happened. Then she saw the toxicology report.”I’m convinced he was smoking cocaine that was laced,” she says. “That’s what he had in his system, [it] was cocaine and fentanyl.”Liisa Bennett was shocked. Chris had developed an addiction to pain pills and then heroin in his late teens but had not used opioids for at least 10 years, as far as she knew. Bennett had warned her son that if he ever used opioids again, he’d be in greater danger of an overdose because fentanyl, an opioid drug more powerful than heroin, was mixed into much of the supply.”My focus was making sure that he wasn’t going to do the heroin that was laced,” Bennett says. She never suspected the crack cocaine Chris smoked occasionally would kill him. “Absolutely not.”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fentanyl, which is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, was found in more than half of overdose deaths last year in 10 states including Massachusetts. Now, there’s concern as it creeps into cocaine.Bennett’s story echoes those heard on college campuses, where students are snorting cocaine to stay awake or during a campus party, and unknowingly overdosing on fentanyl. Thirty-, 40- and 50-year-olds are celebrating their big birthday with a line of cocaine and keeling over. And regular cocaine users report feeling the expected rush and then falling asleep. If these men and women use cocaine and do not have the opioid reversal drug naloxone handy, sometimes, they don’t wake up.Fentanyl-laced cocaine deaths are a growing concernIt’s not clear how many of the nearly 2,000 estimated deaths listed as opioid overdoses last year in Massachusetts represent people who thought they were doing cocaine. The state doesn’t register drug combinations found in most bodies after an overdose.Connecticut does. There, the number of deaths involving cocaine and fentanyl together has increased 420 percent in the past three years. Heroin laced with fentanyl claimed even more lives in Connecticut during that same period.In Massachusetts, an increasing amount of cocaine laced with fentanyl is changing hands on the streets. State police recorded 199 such samples last year, a nearly threefold increase from 2016 — but still a small percentage of total cocaine seizures.The Drug Enforcement Administration says 7 percent of cocaine seized in New England in 2017 included fentanyl, up from 4 percent in 2016. A similar comparison for the U.S. as a whole was not readily available.Who’s adding fentanyl to cocaine, and why?The DEA’s latest National Drug Threat Assessment says adding fentanyl to cocaine is typically for the purpose of “speedballing,” which combines the rush of a stimulant, often cocaine, with a drug that depresses the nervous system, such as heroin. It’s a dangerous combination in any form — more so with fentanyl.But there’s speculation that something else is happening in the current surge of cocaine/fentanyl overdoses and deaths.A dozen EMTs, police officers, physicians and outreach workers contacted for this story describe men and women who were revived after an opioid overdose and claimed they had only used cocaine. So when was fentanyl added and why? There are a few theories.Some researchers say fentanyl showing up in cocaine looks to be accidental, a product of messy packaging rather than malicious intent. Boston Medical Center epidemiologist Traci Green says the rise in cocaine/fentanyl deaths she’s tracking out of Rhode Island is commensurate with the increase in fentanyl deaths overall.”It’s more of a contamination model rather than one that is malicious or purposeful,” says Green, who is also an associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at the Brown University School of Medicine.But a growing number of law enforcement agents, doctors, recovery providers, and drug users argue for malicious intent. They speculate that cartel leaders are using cocaine to expand the market of people addicted to opioids.”People who were just using cocaine occasionally, now they’re using cocaine every day,” says Rafael, who buys cocaine and other illegal drugs, often several times a day, on the streets of Boston. (We’ve agreed to use just his first name.)Rafael says dealers, high up, are intentionally adding fentanyl to cocaine because fentanyl is a more addictive drug.”It’s all about making them [drug users] need the product,” Rafael says.There’s at least one flaw in that market expansion theory, says Albie Park, who co-founded a drug use harm reduction program out of Northampton, Mass., called HRH413.”If you’re opioid naive [with no tolerance for opioids] and you take fentanyl, there’s a good chance you’ll die,” Park says. “So adding fentanyl to cocaine may just scare people away. “Still, Park says the amount of fentanyl in cocaine he’s hearing about suggests intent. He can’t understand why.”I’m baffled,” Park says. “I don’t understand the logic.”A call for warningsAcross Massachusetts, there have been scattered alerts about overdoses that appear to be caused by fentanyl in cocaine.In Arlington, a suburb of Boston, Police Chief Fred Ryan says he has seen four since December.”Law enforcement tells us that that’s the next wave of the addiction crisis — is fentanyl-laced cocaine,” Ryan says.There have been a few public warnings, in Rhode Island, New York City and Tennessee.”Here’s why we’re so concerned,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director T.J. Jordan during a news conference last October. “To be blunt, what you might buy and use, thinking it’s a good time, could cost you your life.”Some in the overdose prevention community say it’s time to raise broader alarms. Jess Tilley, who also co-founded HRH413, offers naloxone and other harm reduction training to agencies that serve drug users and sex workers in western Massachusetts.”We don’t want to cause widespread panic, but with how deadly fentanyl is, we really need to get the word out there that it could potentially be in every batch of cocaine, just like we tell everyone to approach heroin like it could potentially have fentanyl,” Tilley says.That means teaching cocaine users to test the drug before they use it, then start with a small dose, to use in pairs, and carry naloxone — things that are becoming more common for heroin users.”The tools that are going to be most effective are the ones we already have,” says Green at Boston Medical Center. “There’s hope. We have quite a lot that we can work with here.”But Green is concerned. If a growing number of regular and recreational cocaine users will be ingesting fentanyl, there are a lot of questions researchers need to ask and answer fast about how cocaine and fentanyl interact in the body, whether this shift will lead to more intravenous drug use, and which fentanyl analogs are in the cocaine mixtures.”At the drug trafficking level, there’s shifting happening in the markets,” Green says. “We may want to think about the whole market transitioning in front of our very eyes.”A specific warning for African-AmericansIf fentanyl becomes more prevalent in cocaine, there are signs that African-Americans will be hit harder than other groups.A recent study found about the same rate of cocaine-related overdose deaths among blacks between 2012 and 2015 as opioid overdose deaths among whites.”That really reinforces the fact that we have to worry about cocaine use among African-Americans,” says study co-author David Thomas, a program officer at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.Thomas and his colleagues could not tell whether fentanyl played a role in the rise of these cocaine overdoses. But Dr. Tom Gilson says he can. Gilson is the medical examiner in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes Cleveland.”Over the space of three years we have almost a 14-fold increase in fentanyl deaths among African-Americans,” says Gilson, most of which he says were “mixtures of fentanyl with cocaine.”The growing presence of fentanyl in cocaine may be merging two drug communities and decades of tragedy.”The opioid epidemic started in white suburbia but with the infiltration of fentanyl into the cocaine market we are definitely now seeing many more African-Americans dying of this problem,” Gilson says. Copyright 2018 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.last_img read more

A man in the UK has contracted a strain of gonor

first_imgA man in the U.K. has contracted a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to the two main drugs used to treat it, according to British health officials.This is the latest in a long history of gonorrhea developing resistance to antibiotics – in fact, the World Health Organization has warned that doctors are running out of ways to treat it.It’s the first report of a gonorrhea case worldwide that is resistant to both ceftriaxone and azithromycin, the pair of drugs typically effective in treating the disease, according to Public Health England, a U.K. government agency. The strain showed high-level resistance to azithromycin and resistance to ceftriaxone. The patient in the U.K. was diagnosed in early 2018, and health officials believe he contracted the disease through “female sexual contact in south-east Asia a month prior to symptom onset.” The man also had one “regular female partner in the UK,” and she has not contracted the resistant gonorrhea, according to preliminary test results.After being treated, a throat swab testing for gonorrhea still came back positive. The patient is currently being treated through an IV with a different drug, ertapenem, which is related to ceftriaxone. He’s showing signs of responding to the drug, though doctors are still waiting to say whether it is definitely effective. “We are following up this case to ensure that the infection was effectively treated with other options and the risk of any onward transmission is minimized,” Gwenda Hughes from Public Health England tells the BBC. Gonorrhea has grown resistant to multiple kinds of drugs, as scientists struggle to come up with other effective, clear options that are well-studied. And as NPR has reported, “experience has shown that once a resistant strain of gonorrhea appears, it steadily displaces those that can be killed with antibiotics.”In the 1970s and 80s, the bacterium that causes gonorrhea developed resistance to penicillin and tetracycline. More recently it also thwarted fluoroquinolones, a class of drugs that includes Cipro.Then, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just one family of drugs – cephalosporins — still worked to treat it on its own. Ceftriaxone, used in the U.K. patient, is an injectable type of cephalosporin. But then strains that showed resistance to this family of drugs emerged. In 2010, the CDC started recommending that a cephalosporin be used in a dual treatment, accompanied by either doxycycline or azithromycin. “Little now stands between us and untreatable gonhorrea,” the CDC has warned, identifying it as an urgent public health threat. That was before this latest news. The CDC says that “thirty percent of new gonorrhea infections each year are resistant to at least one drug.” But this appears to be the first case where it is resistant to both of them. The bacterium is able to mutate quickly to defend itself, as Jonathan Zenilman, who studies infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins, told NPR’s Rob Stein about another recent mutation. “If this was a person, this person would be incredibly creative,” Zenilman said. “The bug has an incredible ability to adapt and just develop new mechanisms of resisting the impact of these drugs.” For women, gonorrhea increases the risk of a “life-threatening ectopic pregnancy,” the CDC says, and for both men and women, it can lead to infertility and increase the chances of getting HIV. There are some 78 million gonorrhea infections annually, according to the World Health Organization. Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit” alt=”last_img” /> read more

Paige Thesing has struggled with insomnia since hi

first_imgPaige Thesing has struggled with insomnia since high school. “It takes me a really long time to fall asleep — about four hours,” she says. For years, her mornings were groggy and involved a “lot of coffee.”After a year of trying sleep medication prescribed by her doctor, she turned to the internet for alternate solutions. About four months ago, she settled on a mobile phone meditation app called INSCAPE.”It’s about a 30-minute soundtrack, and it starts with a woman kind of telling you to relax and instructing your breathing,” explains Thesing. “Then it goes into sounds — relaxing noises. There’s wind chimes, some atmospheric music playing…”She uses the app every night and falls asleep within 15 or 20 minutes. “So, definitely a big improvement from four hours,” she says.Thesing is not alone. Chronic insomnia affects an estimated 10-15 percent of adults, and another 25-35 percent struggle with sleep issues occasionally. And like Thesing, a growing number of insomniacs are turning to mobile phone apps to lull them to sleep.On Twitter and Facebook, NPR asked its audience if they have used a mobile phone app to help manage insomnia. Nearly 100 people wrote back suggesting a range of apps, including podcasts created to put a listener to sleep.”These are usually relaxation strategies, white noise, meditation,” Jason Ong, an associate professor of neurology specializing in sleep at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He studies non-pharmacological treatments for various sleep disorders and treats patients at the university’s Sleep Medicine clinic. “It’s not that there’s something wrong with those apps. It’s a reasonable first thing to try.”But, he adds, these kinds of apps aren’t based on scientifically-proven solutions, and they don’t really fix the problem of why someone is not sleeping.Ong wanted to do something about that, so a few years ago, he consulted for a team that developed an app that uses a science-based approach to address insomnia called Sleepio. (However, he doesn’t have any ongoing financial interest in the product, he says.)Sleepio and a few other apps like SHUT-i and a free one developed by the Veterans Administration use the most sustainable and evidence-based solution for insomnia. It’s a kind of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia — CBT-I for short, he says. It helps the patient understand the biology of sleep and gives them a bag of tools and tricks to change their own thought patterns and behaviors to treat their underlying sleep issues.”CBT for insomnia is a specific package … [that] includes different techniques like spending less time in bed [and] what to do if you are in bed and can’t sleep,” says Ong. “It’s teaching you how to change your behavior to better work with your brain to give you confidence that you’re going to be able to sleep on a regular basis.”It may be surprising to us, but our own thought patterns and sleep habits affect our biology, in this case how our brains regulate sleep. “If you modify some of your behaviors, you can work better with how your brain regulates sleep and wake,” he says.The American College of Physicians first recommended Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia as the first-line treatment for insomnia in 2016. “The evidence is quite strong to support the effectiveness of CBT-I treatment and there really aren’t a lot of side effects,” says Ong. And, because it changes behavior, “in the long run CBT-I tends to perform quite well in maintaining the benefits.”In the past the only way for people to get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia was to see a therapist, now they can access the therapy on their mobile phones.”In Sleepio, it’s like an avatar of a real therapist that’s walking the patient through that process,” explains Ong. Sleepio also allows users to keep a sleep diary so the app can use its algorithm to suggest a better bedtime schedule. It also reminds people to get up when they’ve spent too much time in bed trying to fall asleep, for example.Like a real therapist, the apps that use Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia also provide practical tools to help the user worry less about their sleep and over time, be less anxious and more confident about their ability get a good night’s rest. “It’s very similar to what we do face-to-face with patients,” adds Ong.Studies show that CBT-I delivered digitally through mobile phone apps is effective in treating insomnia. And a recent study of Sleepio by Ong and the team that developed the product found that participants who used the product reported an improvement in insomnia symptoms and overall wellbeing.”It’s an impressive study in size and scope,” says John Torous, the director of digital psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “But like any study, we have to interpret it within reason.”The participants in the study were mostly white and female, he notes, and so it’s hard to generalize the findings to the larger population. And, he adds that the study was designed and funded by Big Health, the company that created the app and is now marketing it.Also, Sleepio is only available on a limited basis. You can get it through employers, health insurance and national health systems at the moment, says Mike Radocchia, the marketing and business development lead at Big Health. Although the company does give it to researchers and charities for free.And while apps that use Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia cost less than in-person therapy, they can be pricey. A 26-week subscription of SHUTi costs $149.That’s why Torous often directs his patients with insomnia to a free app developed by the Veterans Administration called CBT-I Coach.”Anyone can access it. You don’t have to be a veteran,” Torous says.Jake Hanks, a mental health counselor based in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, agrees. “CBT-I Coach would be my absolute favorite,” he says. “It includes a lot of the cognitive restructuring, the true things about sleep that we want patients to keep in mind.” And so, he too, recommends the free app to his patients.However, Torous notes that these apps don’t work for everyone. The recent study by Ong and his colleagues hints at why.”Even in this clinical study, less than 50 percent [of people who were assigned to use the app in a randomized controlled trial] are able to make it through the entire course of CBT delivered through digital platforms,” he notes. “For some people it may be hard to make it through all the sessions of CBT.”This is true of most health and wellness apps, he says. Torous has studied this and found that of the 10,000 mental health apps out there, very few are actually being used. “I don’t think we really understand how people are using technology towards their health and recovery,” he notes.But in some ways, he says, people with insomnia may be ahead of scientists in figuring out what works well for them.”If you find something that works [for you], I think that’s always a good first step,” he says. “Quick fixes or simple solutions may get you feeling better right away.”But, he notes, insomnia is a complex disorder with many underlying causes. Sometimes it can be caused by a medical condition that’s easily treatable, like a thyroid problem, he adds.So, no matter what app you are considering, always talk to your doctor about your sleep issues, he advises. “Until you know the diagnosis or what you’re working with, you don’t want to start treating something that’s not what you think it is.” Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit read more