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Could virtual fish replace animal testing?

The country’s new national research programme, called Advancing 3R – Animals, Research and Society, promotes scientific projects that contribute to improving, reducing or replacing animal experiments in Swiss research.

Among its recent initiatives is a joint project of the aquatic research institute Eawag and the University of Utrecht. The project, which is has received almost CHF 1 million in funding, is scheduled to run for four years and has the objective of replacing fish-based animal testing with a combination of in-vitro tests and computer models.

Under the leadership of Kristin Schirmer, Eawag has been working for many years to replace animal experiments on fish with in-vitro methods. These are toxicity tests based on fish cells grown in the laboratory. These cells can be used to study how toxic certain chemicals are to fish. This is an important result, which determines, for example, whether new substances can be approved for the market.

A test developed by Schirmer’s team based on rainbow trout gill cells was released last year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as the latest guideline in the field of environmental toxicology.

“We chose gill cells because it is the gills that first come into contact with chemicals in water due to their large surface area in the fish,” explained Schirmer in a press release. “So by observing how the gill cells are damaged by a chemical, we can predict how that chemical would affect a living fish.”

The virtual fish makes a comprehensive view possible

However, an even more comprehensive picture of how chemicals can affect the fish can only be obtained by considering other important organs in addition to the gills. The researchers are now pursuing this objective and are working on tests based on the intestine or nerve cells of rainbow trout. A look at the molecular level – ie at proteins or RNA molecules – will help to complete the picture.

As Ksenia Groh, who is the research group leader, explained: “Our vision is that the data from the in-vitro tests on cells of all major organs will flow into a single computer model, the virtual fish.”

This should enable detailed and well-founded statements to be made on how chemicals affect fish – without having to resort to experiments on living fish.

Cooperation with partners in practice

An important part of the project is the involvement of the chemical industry as well as the authorities responsible for the approval of new chemicals.

“We want to develop the virtual fish together with them in order to align the process from development to application at the regulatory level to the effective needs – which in the case of the gill test took twelve years – and thus speed it up,” said Groh.

Prof Bernhard Truffer, an expert in the field of technical innovations, who is also involved in the project, noted: “Early involvement of the players is important so that the requirements posed by later implementation can already be taken into account during development of the methods. In this way, animal testing can be replaced more quickly in practice.”

Colette vom Berg, who is involved in the project as a research group leader, summarised: “For some time now, Eawag has been doing research with many partners to develop tests that make experiments on living fish unnecessary. With this great project, we have the opportunity to combine different approaches and close gaps.”


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How to protect your bones if you’re a vegetarian

Going veggie is a popular way to help your body and the planet, it seems it may make you more likely to break a hip.

Researchers have said that vegetarian diets “often have lower intakes of nutrients that are linked with bone and muscle health” after their study found that female vegetarians had a 33% increased risk of hip fracture in comparison to regular meat eaters.

The study, which involved more than 26,000 women aged 35-69 from across the UK, assessed the risk of hip fracture among vegetarians, pescatarians, and occasional meat eaters compared with regular meat eaters – and the elevated risk of hip fracture was only found among vegetarians.

However, a plant-based diet is often cited to have big health benefits too.

A veggie diet can make your bones and joints more fragile (Alamy/PA)

“A whole food plant-based diet can reduce inflammatory markers and the risk of the most common chronic diseases. This way of eating promotes health and longevity by maximising healthy nutrients and minimising harmful components,” says Dr Rajiv Bajekal, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and lifestyle medicine physician at Plant Based Health Professionals UK.

“Centering your meals around wholegrains, beans, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds offers mental and physical benefits both in the short-term and in the longer term.”

So, what can vegetarians and vegans do to ensure they are getting all the good stuff and giving their bones the best possible support?

Find plenty of protein

“Bones need protein to be strong and we can get high quality protein in our food from beans, especially soya, and also foods such as quinoa, nuts and seeds,” says Bajekal.

“Look for calcium-set tofu, tempeh and calcium-fortified soya milk and try and get two to three portions of these foods or other beans daily.“Soya is particularly beneficial as it is a great source of protein, micronutrients and also phytoestrogens that are bone protective. Fruit and vegetables also promote bone formation.”Enough calcium is vital – especially during the menopauseAt different times of our life, our bodies may need different things.

“Our maximum bone strength is around 30 years of age after which there is a steady fall in bone strength. If we build up more of a reserve before this age by being very active, we can lose more bone without the problems of osteoporosis in later life,” explains Bajekal.

“During the perimenopause, one can lose as much as 3-5% of our bone mass and strength due to the loss of the protective effect of oestrogen and it is important that women in particular think of how to get into their golden years in the best possible way to prevent this sudden loss of bone.”

To mitigate this, during the menopausal years, it’s key to focus on calcium rich foods, he adds, “Which can be obtained from calcium set tofu, calcium fortified plant milks, white beans, tahini and green leafy vegetables such as kale, boy choy, rocket and broccoli.

“Calcium losses are greater in people who smoke, consume excess amounts of coffee, alcohol or sugar sweetened beverages, and also consume excess salt in the diet usually present in ultra-processed foods.”

Calcium will help people of all ages support bone health though so it’s always worth making sure you’re getting enough.

Focus on strength-based exercise

(Alamy/PA)

The exercise we do will also have an impact on our bone health.“Walking is helpful to prevent bone loss but doesn’t increase bone strength. Walking with a weighted jacket or wrist and ankle weights helps stimulate bone formation,” says Bajekal. “Skipping, star jumps, and training with weights helps strengthen bones and using an all-body vibration platform to do weight training can also help.

“Building leg strength and doing tai chi or other balance training exercises goes a long way in preventing falls and should not be neglected. Muscle strength and bone strength go together in this regard.”

Add other essential vitamins

Eggs are a great source of B12 and Vitamin D (Alamy/PA)

 If you are vegetarian, it’s cruicial to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and B12 – which Bajekal says are “essential for bone health and helping prevent falls and must be supplemented in plant-based diets”.

So get out in the sunshine and eat spinach, eggs and cheese to boost your levels of both – and consider taking a supplement, especially in winter.


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Walmart Whale Trades For August 10

 

Someone with a lot of money to spend has taken a bearish stance on Walmart WMT.

And retail traders should know.

We noticed this today when the big position showed up on publicly available options history that we track here at Benzinga.

Whether this is an institution or just a wealthy individual, we don’t know. But when something this big happens with WMT, it often means somebody knows something is about to happen.

So how do we know what this whale just did?

Today, Benzinga‘s options scanner spotted 18 uncommon options trades for Walmart.

This isn’t normal.

The overall sentiment of these big-money traders is split between 38% bullish and 61%, bearish.

Out of all of the special options we uncovered, 7 are puts, for a total amount of $237,920, and 11 are calls, for a total amount of $621,795.

What’s The Price Target?

Taking into account the Volume and Open Interest on these contracts, it appears that whales have been targeting a price range from $75.0 to $135.0 for Walmart over the last 3 months.

Volume & Open Interest Development

Looking at the volume and open interest is an insightful way to conduct due diligence on a stock.

This data can help you track the liquidity and interest for Walmart’s options for a given strike price.

Below, we can observe the evolution of the volume and open interest of calls and puts, respectively, for all of Walmart’s whale activity within a strike price range from $75.0 to $135.0 in the last 30 days.

Walmart Option Volume And Open Interest Over Last 30 Days

Biggest Options Spotted:

 









Symbol PUT/CALL Trade Type Sentiment Exp. Date Strike Price Total Trade Price Open Interest Volume
WMT CALL SWEEP BEARISH 09/16/22 $130.00 $162.0K 4.2K 944
WMT CALL TRADE BULLISH 01/20/23 $130.00 $84.0K 6.5K 129
WMT CALL TRADE BEARISH 09/23/22 $131.00 $65.4K 12 220
WMT CALL TRADE BULLISH 09/16/22 $75.00 $64.9K 12 22
WMT CALL SWEEP BEARISH 09/16/22 $130.00 $53.9K 4.2K 284

Where Is Walmart Standing Right Now?

  • With a volume of 8,359,635, the price of WMT is up 0.2% at $129.13.
  • RSI indicators hint that the underlying stock may be approaching overbought.
  • Next earnings are expected to be released in 6 days.

What The Experts Say On Walmart:

  • Deutsche Bank has decided to maintain their Buy rating on Walmart, which currently sits at a price target of $142.
  • Morgan Stanley has decided to maintain their Overweight rating on Walmart, which currently sits at a price target of $145.
  • BMO Capital has decided to maintain their Outperform rating on Walmart, which currently sits at a price target of $160.
  • Raymond James has decided to maintain their Outperform rating on Walmart, which currently sits at a price target of $140.
  • Stifel has decided to maintain their Hold rating on Walmart, which currently sits at a price target of $145.

Options are a riskier asset compared to just trading the stock, but they have higher profit potential. Serious options traders manage this risk by educating themselves daily, scaling in and out of trades, following more than one indicator, and following the markets closely.

If you want to stay updated on the latest options trades for Walmart, Benzinga Pro gives you real-time options trades alerts.


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National Parks & Wildlife Service appeal to public on high fire risk warning over extreme heat

The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) has appealed to members of the public to be conscious of the dangers posed by fire and to exercise extreme caution over this high risk period. 

Recent similar hot weather conditions have seen increased fire activity firmly associated with public recreation activities.

Members of the public intending to visit National Parks and Nature Reserves are reminded to adhere to regulations regarding the lighting of fires. 

It is an offence under the Wildlife Act 1976 to light of any fire which causes or is likely to cause the burning of any vegetation within 1 mile (1.6km) of a woodland or Nature Reserve, and those doing so may face prosecution.

The use of barbeques or open fires is strictly prohibited.  Vehicles must not be parked at site entrances or impede emergency vehicle access and may be towed away if causing an obstruction.

Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, emphasised the key safety message:

“The message is simple – be careful. Don’t light fires or barbecues, keep access roads clear for emergency services, and if you’re camping, let someone know where you’ll be. There is a high risk of fire right now. Be vigilant and keep yourself and the wild places we all love safe.”

Fires are particularly destructive in spring and summer as it is prime season for nesting birds, breeding mammals and the regeneration of growth. 

They can cause irreparable damage in our native woodland that can take centuries to recover. Any fires within our high conservation value designated Natura 2000 landscapes (SAC/SPA) have a long lasting negative impact on biodiversity. These fires also add to our Carbon emissions and global warming.

In order to reduce the incidence of wildfires, Conservation Rangers and other NPWS staff will be monitoring and patrolling the network of sites over the coming days and remain in close liaison with the Gardaí and the Fire Service.

NPWS will provide aerial surveillance (involving NPWS staff monitoring from helicopters) at some of the National Parks in the coming days.  The NPWS would ask the public to cooperate with staff and comply with their requests during their visit to NPWS sites during this high risk period. 

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