Displaying publications 1 - 20 of 1533 in total

  1. Loo JM, Tsai JS, Raylu N, Oei TP
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(2):e83889.
    PMID: 24523854 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083889
    The majority of prevention and intervention research in problem gambling (PG) has focused on identifying negative risk factors. However, not all at-risk individuals go on to develop anticipated disorders and many thrive in spite of them. In healthcare settings, PG and other disorders are typically conceptualized from the biomedical perspective that frame disorders as something negative residing within the individual and reduction in negativity is seen as success. Indeed, this problem-focused conceptualization may be adequate in many cases as reducing PG behaviour is undoubtedly an important outcome, but the focus on negativity alone is too narrow to capture the complexity of human behaviour. Hence, this study attempts to bridge the gap in literature by providing an evaluation of the predictive ability of the positive dispositions on problem gambling severity, gambling-related cognitions, and gambling urges. The positive psychological dispositions examined were curiosity, gratitude, hope, personal growth initiative, and mindfulness. Participants consisted of 801 Taiwanese Chinese students and community individuals (Mean age = 25.36 years). Higher levels of gratitude and hope have been found to predict lower PG, gambling-related cognitions, or gambling urges. Meanwhile, higher mindfulness predicted lower PG, but only among Chinese males. However, lower personal growth initiative predicted lower PG, gambling-related cognitions, and gambling urges. These analyses have small to medium effect sizes with significant predictions. Findings of this study have essential implications in understanding and treating Chinese problem gamblers. These positive dispositions should be addressed by mental health professionals in preventative and treatment programs among Chinese individuals. Further implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
  2. Murugaiah C, Nik Mohd Noor NZ, Mustafa S, Manickam R, Pattabhiraman L
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(2):e81817.
    PMID: 24505241 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081817
    Cholera is a major infectious disease, affecting millions of lives annually. In endemic areas, implementation of vaccination strategy against cholera is vital. As the use of safer live vaccine that can induce protective immunity against Vibrio cholerae O139 infection is a promising approach for immunization, we have designed VCUSM21P, an oral cholera vaccine candidate, which has ctxA that encodes A subunit of ctx and mutated rtxA/C, ace and zot mutations. VCUSM21P was found not to disassemble the actin of HEp2 cells. It colonized the mice intestine approximately 1 log lower than that of the Wild Type (WT) strain obtained from Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia. In the ileal loop assay, unlike WT challenge, 1×10⁶ and 1×10⁸ colony forming unit (CFU) of VCUSM21P was not reactogenic in non-immunized rabbits. Whereas, the reactogenicity caused by the WT in rabbits immunized with 1×10¹⁰ CFU of VCUSM21P was found to be reduced as evidenced by absence of fluid in loops administered with 1×10²-1×10⁷ CFU of WT. Oral immunization using 1×10¹⁰ CFU of VCUSM21P induced both IgA and IgG against Cholera Toxin (CT) and O139 lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The serum vibriocidal antibody titer had a peak rise of 2560 fold on week 4. Following Removable Intestinal Tie Adult Rabbit Diarrhoea (RITARD) experiment, the non-immunized rabbits were found not to be protected against lethal challenge with 1×10⁹ CFU WT, but 100% of immunized rabbits survived the challenge. In the past eleven years, V. cholerae O139 induced cholera has not been observed. However, attenuated VCUSM21P vaccine could be used for vaccination program against potentially fatal endemic or emerging cholera caused by V. cholerae O139.
  3. Nguyen MT, Denniston R, Nguyen HT, Hoang TA, Ross H, So AD
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e87272.
    PMID: 24489886 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087272
    Illicit trade carries the potential to magnify existing tobacco-related health care costs through increased availability of untaxed and inexpensive cigarettes. What is known with respect to the magnitude of illicit trade for Vietnam is produced primarily by the industry, and methodologies are typically opaque. Independent assessment of the illicit cigarette trade in Vietnam is vital to tobacco control policy. This paper measures the magnitude of illicit cigarette trade for Vietnam between 1998 and 2010 using two methods, discrepancies between legitimate domestic cigarette sales and domestic tobacco consumption estimated from surveys, and trade discrepancies as recorded by Vietnam and trade partners. The results indicate that Vietnam likely experienced net smuggling in during the period studied. With the inclusion of adjustments for survey respondent under-reporting, inward illicit trade likely occurred in three of the four years for which surveys were available. Discrepancies in trade records indicate that the value of smuggled cigarettes into Vietnam ranges from $100 million to $300 million between 2000 and 2010 and that these cigarettes primarily originate in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, and Australia. Notable differences in trends over time exist between the two methods, but by comparison, the industry estimates consistently place the magnitude of illicit trade at the upper bounds of what this study shows. The unavailability of annual, survey-based estimates of consumption may obscure the true, annual trend over time. Second, as surveys changed over time, estimates relying on them may be inconsistent with one another. Finally, these two methods measure different components of illicit trade, specifically consumption of illicit cigarettes regardless of origin and smuggling of cigarettes into a particular market. However, absent a gold standard, comparisons of different approaches to illicit trade measurement serve efforts to refine and improve measurement approaches and estimates.
  4. Thavagnanam S, Parker JC, McBrien ME, Skibinski G, Shields MD, Heaney LG
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e85802.
    PMID: 24475053 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085802
    Differentiated paediatric epithelial cells can be used to study the role of epithelial cells in asthma. Nasal epithelial cells are easier to obtain and may act as a surrogate for bronchial epithelium in asthma studies. We assessed the suitability of nasal epithelium from asthmatic children to be a surrogate for bronchial epithelium using air-liquid interface cultures.
  5. Zaman Huri H, Hui Xin C, Sulaiman CZ
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86215.
    PMID: 24475089 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086215
    Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) patients are at risk of acquiring drug-related problems (DRPs), as it is present in the majority of aging men. To date, DRPs among BPH patients have not been well studied. We conducted this retrospective study in a tertiary hospital in Malaysia from January 2009 to June 2012 with the aim of identifying the factors associated with DRPs among BPH patients. The Pharmaceutical Care Network Europe Classification Version (PCNE) 5.01 was used as a tool to classify DRPs. We enrolled 203 patients from 259 hospital admissions. A total of 390 DRPs were found and there was an average of 1.5±1.3 problems per hospitalization. 76.1% of hospital admissions included at least one DRP. The most common DRP categories encountered were drug choice problems (45.9%), drug interactions (24.9%), and dosing problems (13.3%). Factors such as advanced age (p = 0.005), a hospital stay of more than 6 days (p = 0.001), polydrug treatments (p<0.001), multiple comorbidities (p<0.001), and comorbid cardiovascular disease (p = 0.011), diabetes mellitus(p = 0.001), hypertension (p<0.001) and renal impairment (p = 0.011) were significantly associated with the occurrence of DRPs. These data indicated that the prevalence of DRPs is high among BPH patients. The identification of different subtypes of DRPs and the factors associated with DRPs may facilitate risk reduction for BPH patients.
  6. Tiong KH, Mohammed Yunus NA, Yiap BC, Tan EL, Ismail R, Ong CE
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86230.
    PMID: 24475091 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086230
    Human cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) is a highly polymorphic isoform of CYP2A subfamily. Our previous kinetic study on four CYP2A6 allelic variants (CYP2A6 15, CYP2A6 16, CYP2A6 21 and CYP2A6 22) have unveiled the functional significance of sequence mutations in these variants on coumarin 7-hydroxylation activity. In the present study, we further explored the ability of a typical CYP2A6 inhibitor, 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP), in inhibition of these alleles and we hypothesized that translational mutations in these variants are likely to give impact on 8-MOP inhibitory potency. The CYP2A6 variant and the wild type proteins were subjected to 8-MOP inhibition to yield IC50 values. In general, a similar trend of change in the IC50 and Km values was noted among the four mutants towards coumarin oxidation. With the exception of CYP2A6 16, differences in IC50 values were highly significant which implied compromised interaction of the mutants with 8-MOP. Molecular models of CYP2A6 were subsequently constructed and ligand-docking experiments were performed to rationalize experimental data. Our docking study has shown that mutations have induced enlargement of the active site volume in all mutants with the exception of CYP2A6 16. Furthermore, loss of hydrogen bond between 8-MOP and active site residue Asn297 was evidenced in all mutants. Our data indicate that the structural changes elicited by the sequence mutations could affect 8-MOP binding to yield differential enzymatic activities in the mutant CYP2A6 proteins.
  7. Abbas M, Majid AA, Md Ismail AI, Rashid A
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e83265.
    PMID: 24427270 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083265
    In this paper, a numerical method for the solution of a strongly coupled reaction-diffusion system, with suitable initial and Neumann boundary conditions, by using cubic B-spline collocation scheme on a uniform grid is presented. The scheme is based on the usual finite difference scheme to discretize the time derivative while cubic B-spline is used as an interpolation function in the space dimension. The scheme is shown to be unconditionally stable using the von Neumann method. The accuracy of the proposed scheme is demonstrated by applying it on a test problem. The performance of this scheme is shown by computing L∞ and L2 error norms for different time levels. The numerical results are found to be in good agreement with known exact solutions.
  8. Kai Z, Woan TS, Jie L, Goodale E, Kitajima K, Bagchi R, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86598.
    PMID: 24466163 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086598
    The value of local ecological knowledge (LEK) to conservation is increasingly recognised, but LEK is being rapidly lost as indigenous livelihoods change. Biodiversity loss is also a driver of the loss of LEK, but quantitative study is lacking. In our study landscape in SW China, a large proportion of species have been extirpated. Hence, we were interested to understand whether species extirpation might have led to an erosion of LEK and the implications this might have for conservation. So we investigated peoples' ability to name a selection of birds and mammals in their local language from pictures. Age was correlated to frequency of forest visits as a teenager and is likely to be closely correlated to other known drivers of the loss of LEK, such as declining forest dependence. We found men were better at identifying birds overall and that older people were better able to identify birds to the species as compared to group levels (approximately equivalent to genus). The effect of age was also stronger among women. However, after controlling for these factors, species abundance was by far the most important parameter in determining peoples' ability to name birds. People were unable to name any locally extirpated birds at the species level. However, contrary to expectations, people were better able to identify extirpated mammals at the species level than extant ones. However, extirpated mammals tend to be more charismatic species and several respondents indicated they were only familiar with them through TV documentaries. Younger people today cannot experience the sights and sounds of forest animals that their parents grew up with and, consequently, knowledge of these species is passing from cultural memory. We suggest that engaging older members of the community and linking the preservation of LEK to biodiversity conservation may help generate support for conservation.
  9. Calingacion M, Laborte A, Nelson A, Resurreccion A, Concepcion JC, Daygon VD, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e85106.
    PMID: 24454799 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085106
    With the ever-increasing global demand for high quality rice in both local production regions and with Western consumers, we have a strong desire to understand better the importance of the different traits that make up the quality of the rice grain and obtain a full picture of rice quality demographics. Rice is by no means a 'one size fits all' crop. Regional preferences are not only striking, they drive the market and hence are of major economic importance in any rice breeding / improvement strategy. In this analysis, we have engaged local experts across the world to perform a full assessment of all the major rice quality trait characteristics and importantly, to determine how these are combined in the most preferred varieties for each of their regions. Physical as well as biochemical characteristics have been monitored and this has resulted in the identification of no less than 18 quality trait combinations. This complexity immediately reveals the extent of the specificity of consumer preference. Nevertheless, further assessment of these combinations at the variety level reveals that several groups still comprise varieties which consumers can readily identify as being different. This emphasises the shortcomings in the current tools we have available to assess rice quality and raises the issue of how we might correct for this in the future. Only with additional tools and research will we be able to define directed strategies for rice breeding which are able to combine important agronomic features with the demands of local consumers for specific quality attributes and hence, design new, improved crop varieties which will be awarded success in the global market.
  10. Lemoh C, Ryan CE, Sekawi Z, Hearps AC, Aleksic E, Chibo D, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2013;8(12):e84008.
    PMID: 24391866 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084008
    African-born Australians are a recognised "priority population" in Australia's Sixth National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We compared exposure location and route for African-born people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Victoria, Australia, with HIV-1 pol subtype from drug resistance assays and geographical origin suggested by phylogenetic analysis of env gene. Twenty adult HIV positive African-born Victorian residents were recruited via treating doctors. HIV exposure details were obtained from interviews and case notes. Viral RNA was extracted from participant stored plasma or whole blood. The env V3 region was sequenced and compared to globally representative reference HIV-1 sequences in the Los Alamos National Library HIV Database. Twelve participants reported exposure via heterosexual sex and two via iatrogenic blood exposures; four were men having sex with men (MSM); two were exposed via unknown routes. Eight participants reported exposure in their countries of birth, seven in Australia, three in other countries and two in unknown locations. Genotype results (pol) were available for ten participants. HIV env amplification was successful in eighteen cases. HIV-1 subtype was identified in all participants: eight both pol and env; ten env alone and two pol alone. Twelve were subtype C, four subtype B, three subtype A and one subtype CRF02_AG. Reported exposure location was consistent with the phylogenetic clustering of env sequences. African Australians are members of multiple transnational social and sexual networks influencing their exposure to HIV. Phylogenetic analysis may complement traditional surveillance to discern patterns of HIV exposure, providing focus for HIV prevention programs in mobile populations.
  11. Wu WH, Kuo TC, Lin YT, Huang SW, Liu HF, Wang J, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2013;8(12):e83711.
    PMID: 24391812 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083711
    Enterovirus 71 (EV71), a causative agent of hand, foot, and mouth disease can be classified into three genotypes and many subtypes. The objectives of this study were to conduct a molecular epidemiological study of EV71 in the central region of Taiwan from 2002-2012 and to test the hypothesis that whether the alternative appearance of different EV71 subtypes in Taiwan is due to transmission from neighboring countries or from re-emergence of pre-existing local strains. We selected 174 EV71 isolates and used reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to amplify their VP1 region for DNA sequencing. Phylogenetic analyses were conducted using Neighbor-Joining, Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian methods. We found that the major subtypes of EV71 in Taiwan were B4 for 2002 epidemic, C4 for 2004-2005 epidemic, B5 for 2008-2009 epidemic, C4 for 2010 epidemic and B5 for 2011-2012 epidemic. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the 2002 and 2008 epidemics were associated with EV71 from Malaysia and Singapore; while both 2010 and 2011-2012 epidemics originated from different regions of mainland China including Shanghai, Henan, Xiamen and Gong-Dong. Furthermore, minor strains have been identified in each epidemic and some of them were correlated with the subsequent outbreaks. Therefore, the EV71 infection in Taiwan may originate from pre-existing minor strains or from other regions in Asia including mainland China. In addition, 101 EV71 isolates were selected for the detection of new recombinant strains using the nucleotide sequences spanning the VP1-2A-2B region. No new recombinant strain was found. Analysis of clinical manifestations showed that patients infected with C4 had significantly higher rates of pharyngeal vesicles or ulcers than patients infected with B5. This is the first study demonstrating that different EV 71 genotypes may have different clinical manifestations and the association of EV71 infections between Taiwan and mainland China.
  12. Masuda S, Tani N, Ueno S, Lee SL, Muhammad N, Kondo T, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2013;8(12):e82039.
    PMID: 24391712 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082039
    Pollinator syndrome is one of the most important determinants regulating pollen dispersal in tropical tree species. It has been widely accepted that the reproduction of tropical forest species, especially dipterocarps that rely on insects with weak flight for their pollination, is positively density-dependent. However differences in pollinator syndrome should affect pollen dispersal patterns and, consequently, influence genetic diversity via the mating process. We examined the pollen dispersal pattern and mating system of Shorea maxwelliana, the flowers of which are larger than those of Shorea species belonging to section Mutica which are thought to be pollinated by thrips (weak flyers). A Bayesian mating model based on the paternity of seeds collected from mother trees during sporadic and mass flowering events revealed that the estimated pollen dispersal kernel and average pollen dispersal distance were similar for both flowering events. This evidence suggests that the putative pollinators - small beetles and weevils - effectively contribute to pollen dispersal and help to maintain a high outcrossing rate even during sporadic flowering events. However, the reduction in pollen donors during a sporadic event results in a reduction in effective pollen donors, which should lead to lower genetic diversity in the next generation derived from seeds produced during such an event. Although sporadic flowering has been considered less effective for outcrossing in Shorea species that depend on thrips for their pollination, effective pollen dispersal by the small beetles and weevils ensures outcrossing during periods of low flowering tree density, as occurs in a sporadic flowering event.
  13. Braima KA, Sum JS, Ghazali AR, Muslimin M, Jeffery J, Lee WC, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2013;8(10):e77924.
    PMID: 24194901 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077924
    BACKGROUND: The suburban transmission of malaria in Selangor, Malaysia's most developed and populous state still remains a concern for public health in this region. Despite much successful control efforts directed at its reduction, sporadic cases, mostly brought in by foreigners have continued to occur. In addition, cases of simian malaria caused by Plasmodium knowlesi, some with fatal outcome have caused grave concern to health workers. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of local malaria transmission in suburban regions of Selangor, which are adjacent to secondary rainforests.

    FINDINGS: A malaria survey spanning 7 years (2006 - 2012) was conducted in Selangor. A total of 1623 laboratory confirmed malaria cases were reported from Selangor's nine districts. While 72.6% of these cases (1178/1623) were attributed to imported malaria (cases originating from other countries), 25.5% (414/1623) were local cases and 1.9% (31/1623) were considered as relapse and unclassified cases combined. In this study, the most prevalent infection was P. vivax (1239 cases, prevalence 76.3%) followed by P. falciparum (211, 13.0%), P. knowlesi (75, 4.6%), P. malariae (71, 4.4%) and P. ovale (1, 0.06%). Mixed infections comprising of P. vivax and P. falciparum were confirmed (26, 1.6%). Entomological surveys targeting the residences of malaria patients' showed that the most commonly trapped Anopheles species was An. maculatus. No oocysts or sporozoites were found in the An. maculatus collected. Nevertheless, the possibility of An. maculatus being the malaria vector in the investigated locations was high due to its persistent occurrence in these areas.

    CONCLUSIONS: Malaria cases reported in this study were mostly imported cases. However the co-existence of local cases and potential Plasmodium spp. vectors should be cause for concern. The results of this survey reflect the need of maintaining closely monitored malaria control programs and continuous extensive malaria surveillance in Peninsula Malaysia.

  14. Veerasamy C, Sambasivan M, Kumar N
    PLoS ONE, 2013;8(10):e77698.
    PMID: 24194894 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077698
    The purpose of this paper is to analyze two important outcomes of individual skills-based volunteerism (ISB-V) among healthcare volunteers in Malaysia. The outcomes are: job performance and life satisfaction. This study has empirically tested the impact of individual dimensions of ISB-V along with their inter-relationships in explaining the life satisfaction and job performance. Besides, the effects of employer encouragement to the volunteers, demographic characteristics of volunteers, and self-esteem of volunteers on job performance and life satisfaction have been studied. The data were collected through a questionnaire distributed to 1000 volunteers of St. John Ambulance in Malaysia. Three hundred and sixty six volunteers responded by giving their feedback. The model was tested using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). The main results of this study are: (1) Volunteer duration and nature of contact affects life satisfaction, (2) volunteer frequency has impact on volunteer duration, (3) self-esteem of volunteers has significant relationships with volunteer frequency, job performance and life satisfaction, (4) job performance of volunteers affect their life satisfaction and (5) current employment level has significant relationships with duration of volunteering, self esteem, employer encouragement and job performance of volunteers. The model in this study has been able to explain 39% of the variance in life satisfaction and 45% of the variance in job performance. The current study adds significantly to the body of knowledge on healthcare volunteerism.
  15. Norbäck D, Markowicz P, Cai GH, Hashim Z, Ali F, Zheng YW, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(2):e88303.
    PMID: 24523884 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088303
    There are few studies on associations between respiratory health and allergens, fungal and bacterial compounds in schools in tropical countries. The aim was to study associations between respiratory symptoms in pupils and ethnicity, chemical microbial markers, allergens and fungal DNA in settled dust in schools in Malaysia. Totally 462 pupils (96%) from 8 randomly selected secondary schools in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, participated. Dust was vacuumed from 32 classrooms and analysed for levels of different types of endotoxin as 3-hydroxy fatty acids (3-OH), muramic acid, ergosterol, allergens and five fungal DNA sequences. Multiple logistic regression was applied. Totally 13.1% pupils reported doctor's diagnosed asthma, 10.3% wheeze and 21.1% pollen or pet allergy. Indian and Chinese children had less atopy and asthma than Malay. Carbon dioxide levels were low (380-690 ppm). No cat (Fel d1), dog (Can f 1) or horse allergens (Ecu cx) were detected. The levels of Bloomia tropicalis (Blo t), house dust mite allergens (Der p 1, Der f 1, Der m 1) and cockroach allergens (Per a 1 and Bla g 1) were low. There were positive associations between levels of Aspergillus versicolor DNA and daytime breathlessness, between C14 3-OH and respiratory infections and between ergosterol and doctors diagnosed asthma. There were negative (protective) associations between levels of C10 3-OH and wheeze, between C16 3-OH and day time and night time breathlessness, between cockroach allergens and doctors diagnosed asthma. Moreover there were negative associations between amount of fine dust, total endotoxin (LPS) and respiratory infections. In conclusion, endotoxin at school seems to be mainly protective for respiratory illness but different types of endotoxin could have different effects. Fungal contamination measured as ergosterol and Aspergillus versicolor DNA can be risk factors for respiratory illness. The ethnical differences for atopy and asthma deserve further attention.
  16. Tosser-Klopp G, Bardou P, Bouchez O, Cabau C, Crooijmans R, Dong Y, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86227.
    PMID: 24465974 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086227
    The success of Genome Wide Association Studies in the discovery of sequence variation linked to complex traits in humans has increased interest in high throughput SNP genotyping assays in livestock species. Primary goals are QTL detection and genomic selection. The purpose here was design of a 50-60,000 SNP chip for goats. The success of a moderate density SNP assay depends on reliable bioinformatic SNP detection procedures, the technological success rate of the SNP design, even spacing of SNPs on the genome and selection of Minor Allele Frequencies (MAF) suitable to use in diverse breeds. Through the federation of three SNP discovery projects consolidated as the International Goat Genome Consortium, we have identified approximately twelve million high quality SNP variants in the goat genome stored in a database together with their biological and technical characteristics. These SNPs were identified within and between six breeds (meat, milk and mixed): Alpine, Boer, Creole, Katjang, Saanen and Savanna, comprising a total of 97 animals. Whole genome and Reduced Representation Library sequences were aligned on >10 kb scaffolds of the de novo goat genome assembly. The 60,000 selected SNPs, evenly spaced on the goat genome, were submitted for oligo manufacturing (Illumina, Inc) and published in dbSNP along with flanking sequences and map position on goat assemblies (i.e. scaffolds and pseudo-chromosomes), sheep genome V2 and cattle UMD3.1 assembly. Ten breeds were then used to validate the SNP content and 52,295 loci could be successfully genotyped and used to generate a final cluster file. The combined strategy of using mainly whole genome Next Generation Sequencing and mapping on a contig genome assembly, complemented with Illumina design tools proved to be efficient in producing this GoatSNP50 chip. Advances in use of molecular markers are expected to accelerate goat genomic studies in coming years.
  17. Chow WZ, Takebe Y, Syafina NE, Prakasa MS, Chan KG, Al-Darraji HA, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e85250.
    PMID: 24465513 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085250
    The HIV epidemic is primarily characterised by the circulation of HIV-1 group M (main) comprising of 11 subtypes and sub-subtypes (A1, A2, B-D, F1, F2, G, H, J, and K) and to date 55 circulating recombinant forms (CRFs). In Southeast Asia, active inter-subtype recombination involving three main circulating genotypes--subtype B (including subtype B', the Thai variant of subtype B), CRF01_AE, and CRF33_01B--have contributed to the emergence of novel unique recombinant forms. In the present study, we conducted the molecular epidemiological surveillance of HIV-1 gag-RT genes among 258 people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2009 and 2011 whereby a novel CRF candidate was recently identified. The near full-length genome sequences obtained from six epidemiologically unlinked individuals showed identical mosaic structures consisting of subtype B' and CRF01_AE, with six unique recombination breakpoints in the gag-RT, pol, and env regions. Among the high-risk population of PWIDs in Malaysia, which was predominantly infected by CRF33_01B (>70%), CRF58_01B circulated at a low but significant prevalence (2.3%, 6/258). Interestingly, the CRF58_01B shared two unique recombination breakpoints with other established CRFs in the region: CRF33_01B, CRF48_01B, and CRF53_01B in the gag gene, and CRF15_01B (from Thailand) in the env gene. Extended Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling analysis showed that CRF58_01B and other recently discovered CRFs were most likely to have originated in Malaysia, and that the recent spread of recombinant lineages in the country had little influence from neighbouring countries. The isolation, genetic characterization, and evolutionary features of CRF58_01B among PWIDs in Malaysia signify the increasingly complex HIV-1 diversity in Southeast Asia that may hold an implication on disease treatment, control, and prevention.
  18. Heydari H, Siow CC, Tan MF, Jakubovics NS, Wee WY, Mutha NV, et al.
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86318.
    PMID: 24466021 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086318
    Corynebacteria are used for a wide variety of industrial purposes but some species are associated with human diseases. With increasing number of corynebacterial genomes having been sequenced, comparative analysis of these strains may provide better understanding of their biology, phylogeny, virulence and taxonomy that may lead to the discoveries of beneficial industrial strains or contribute to better management of diseases. To facilitate the ongoing research of corynebacteria, a specialized central repository and analysis platform for the corynebacterial research community is needed to host the fast-growing amount of genomic data and facilitate the analysis of these data. Here we present CoryneBase, a genomic database for Corynebacterium with diverse functionality for the analysis of genomes aimed to provide: (1) annotated genome sequences of Corynebacterium where 165,918 coding sequences and 4,180 RNAs can be found in 27 species; (2) access to comprehensive Corynebacterium data through the use of advanced web technologies for interactive web interfaces; and (3) advanced bioinformatic analysis tools consisting of standard BLAST for homology search, VFDB BLAST for sequence homology search against the Virulence Factor Database (VFDB), Pairwise Genome Comparison (PGC) tool for comparative genomic analysis, and a newly designed Pathogenomics Profiling Tool (PathoProT) for comparative pathogenomic analysis. CoryneBase offers the access of a range of Corynebacterium genomic resources as well as analysis tools for comparative genomics and pathogenomics. It is publicly available at http://corynebacterium.um.edu.my/.
  19. Lau NS, Foong CP, Kurihara Y, Sudesh K, Matsui M
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86368.
    PMID: 24466058 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086368
    The photosynthetic cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. strain 6803, is a potential platform for the production of various chemicals and biofuels. In this study, direct photosynthetic production of a biopolymer, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), in genetically engineered Synechocystis sp. achieved as high as 14 wt%. This is the highest production reported in Synechocystis sp. under photoautotrophic cultivation conditions without the addition of a carbon source. The addition of acetate increased PHA accumulation to 41 wt%, and this value is comparable to the highest production obtained with cyanobacteria. Transcriptome analysis by RNA-seq coupled with real-time PCR was performed to understand the global changes in transcript levels of cells subjected to conditions suitable for photoautotrophic PHA biosynthesis. There was lower expression of most PHA synthesis-related genes in recombinant Synechocystis sp. with higher PHA accumulation suggesting that the concentration of these enzymes is not the limiting factor to achieving high PHA accumulation. In order to cope with the higher PHA production, cells may utilize enhanced photosynthesis to drive the product formation. Results from this study suggest that the total flux of carbon is the possible driving force for the biosynthesis of PHA and the polymerizing enzyme, PHA synthase, is not the only critical factor affecting PHA-synthesis. Knowledge of the regulation or control points of the biopolymer production pathways will facilitate the further use of cyanobacteria for biotechnological applications.
  20. Mustafa MB, Salim SS, Mohamed N, Al-Qatab B, Siong CE
    PLoS ONE, 2014;9(1):e86285.
    PMID: 24466004 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086285
    Automatic speech recognition (ASR) is currently used in many assistive technologies, such as helping individuals with speech impairment in their communication ability. One challenge in ASR for speech-impaired individuals is the difficulty in obtaining a good speech database of impaired speakers for building an effective speech acoustic model. Because there are very few existing databases of impaired speech, which are also limited in size, the obvious solution to build a speech acoustic model of impaired speech is by employing adaptation techniques. However, issues that have not been addressed in existing studies in the area of adaptation for speech impairment are as follows: (1) identifying the most effective adaptation technique for impaired speech; and (2) the use of suitable source models to build an effective impaired-speech acoustic model. This research investigates the above-mentioned two issues on dysarthria, a type of speech impairment affecting millions of people. We applied both unimpaired and impaired speech as the source model with well-known adaptation techniques like the maximum likelihood linear regression (MLLR) and the constrained-MLLR(C-MLLR). The recognition accuracy of each impaired speech acoustic model is measured in terms of word error rate (WER), with further assessments, including phoneme insertion, substitution and deletion rates. Unimpaired speech when combined with limited high-quality speech-impaired data improves performance of ASR systems in recognising severely impaired dysarthric speech. The C-MLLR adaptation technique was also found to be better than MLLR in recognising mildly and moderately impaired speech based on the statistical analysis of the WER. It was found that phoneme substitution was the biggest contributing factor in WER in dysarthric speech for all levels of severity. The results show that the speech acoustic models derived from suitable adaptation techniques improve the performance of ASR systems in recognising impaired speech with limited adaptation data.
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