Fertilization following pollination predominantly decreases phytocannabinoids accumulation and alters the accumulation of terpenoids in Cannabis inflorescences

In this 2021 paper published in Frontiers in Plant Science, Feder et al. present the analytical results of Cannabis inflorescences that have been pollinated and fertilized, in an attempt to show that fertilization can affect phytocannabinoid accumulation, among other goals. Noting that growers have recently shifted to using seeds, which can despite feminization reveal to be male seeds five to ten percent of the time, the authors note that this type of research—rarely conducted—is particularly critical to answering questions about how pollination effects phytocannabinoid and terpenoid expression. After providing background information and reviewing materials and methods for their analyses, the authors discuss the results, noting in particular that "phytocannabinoid quantity predominately decreases after fertilization," terpenoid quantity can vary based upon the type of female plant, and that "individual terpenoid concentrations are differentially affected by fertilization." After further discussion, they conclude not only the three prior-mentioned findings, but they also by extension suggest that their findings indicate the "functional roles" of phytocannabinoids and terpenoids in Cannabis's plant life cycle.

Error evaluation in the laboratory testing process and laboratory information systems

In this 2021 journal article published in Journal of Medical Biochemistry, Arifin and Yusof of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia examine the error factors that come with using a laboratory information system (LIS) and propose the "total testing process for laboratory information systems" (TTP-LIS). This process leans on a variety of existing frameworks and lean quality improvement methods to meet the authors' needs and is applied to two large hospitals in Malaysia. After examining human, technology, and organizational factors, the authors discuss their findings, noting that their "findings showed the practicality of the TTP-LIS framework as an evaluation tool in identifying errors and their causal factors. The use of lean tools—namely, VSM, A3, and 5 Why—enabled us to analyze and visualize the root cause of problems in an objective and structured manner. " Those root causes were able to be categorized in three ways: "as a latent failure in system development, as poor error management, and as unsatisfactory lab testing processes and LIS use."

The cannabis terpenes

When it comes to analyzing the Cannabis plant and its constituents, terpenes are one such component that hasn't been well studied until recent years. But as Sommano et al. note in their 2020 paper published in Molecules, "a growing number of industries have shown interest in adding either cannabis terpenes or botanically-derived terpenes to their CBD oils and edibles." This has resulted in demand for further study of terpenes and how they interact with other constituents. The authors present a broad look at terpenes in their paper. examining the taxonomy and localization of terpenes from Cannabis plants, their biosynthesis, and their prevalence in certain chemovars. They close by briefly discussing separation of terpenes, and concluding that "terpene profiles not only embody the characteristics of cannabis genotypes, but their entourage effect with cannabinoids could enhance their medicinal functionality."

Laboratory demand management strategies: An overview

In this 2021 article published in the journal Diagnostics, Mrazek et al. of the Paracelsus Medical University provide a review of the available demand management (DM) strategies available to laboratorians and clinicians for avoiding inappropriate utilization of specific laboratory diagnostics. The authors provide 10 potential strategies toward that goal, including the likes of more practical order entry alerts, better utilization of the laboratory information system (LIS), outdated test removal, relevant test addition, and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, to name a few. However, whatever methods are implemented, the authors note that it's vital for demand management strategies "to be adapted to local settings." Additionally, given that many of the strategies may be unduly time-consuming, they "believe that AI solutions are the next logical step, aiding in the development as well as improvement of DM strategies, as they could help to manage large data sets." However, even AI has its caveats, as "a tool of assistance," they add.

A scoping review of integrated blockchain-cloud architecture for healthcare: Applications, challenges, and solutions

As laboratories continue to swim in an increasing amount of data and attempt to streamline operations, thoughts of turning to cloud-based data management grow. And while cloud-based applications can help, challenges remain with security, privacy, and real-time access. Blockchain-based systems alone can improve on some of those challenges, but blockchain isn't scalable. As such, Ismail et al. discuss at length in this 2021 paper the benefits of integrating blockchain with cloud-computing systems, as well as the remaining challenges of optimizing such an integration. After presenting existing research and discussing the basics of cloud computing and blockchain, the authors discuss the integration of the two in both encapsulated- and non-encapsulated architectures, as well as how they can be applied to healthcare systems. They close by addressing the remaining challenges of an integrated system, including the energy costs of running such a system. They conclude that while "the integration of cloud and blockchain for healthcare is promising to cope with the shortcomings of these individual technologies ... further research is still required to enhance the existing architecture to make it more scalable and energy-efficient with inter-cloud communication support."

Laboratory information management system for the biosafety laboratory: Safety and efficiency

There are numerous laboratory information management systems (LIMS) on the market, but in reality, how many are finely tuned to handle the safety requirements of a biosafety laboratory? At least from the standpoint of Sun et al. of the Institute of Microbiology Chinese Academy of Sciences, few if any meet those needs. As such, the authors, in this 2021 paper published in the Journal of Biosafety and Biosecurity, commence with laying out the unique add-on requirements a standard LIMS would require in order to meet the needs of most biosafety lab. Noting in their introduction "a strange situation, one where biosafety information itself is highly digitalized, yet there is no centralized system designed to better organize that electronic information and enable laboratorians to use it appropriately," the authors then describe what is required to remedy that situation. They note that biosafety and efficiency are tied to four information management aspects of the biosafety lab: project management, personnel administration, experimental material management, and equipment management. The authors then discuss how these areas of management would need to be fortified in a modern LIMS, as well as addressing other areas such as balancing flexibility and complexity and addressing data security.

Use of middleware data to dissect and optimize hematology autoverification

In this 2021 journal article published in the Journal of Pathology Informatics, Starks et al. of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics present their case for the value of autoverification data evaluation despite the inherent challenges of extracting and analyzing data related to autoverification rules from informatics system. Noting that most autoverification rules were housed in their middleware solution and (and not the LIS, which would require additional fields currently not present), they examined instrument- and middleware-generated flags generated from "complete blood count (CBC) with white blood cell (WBC) count differential (Diff) and the 'a la carte' ordering of individual CBC components." Their analysis resulted in two significant changes to their autoverification rules related to those tests, resulting in "improved efficiency and lower rerun rates." However, these insights did come at some investment in time and resources, requiring third-party data retrieval methods and "extensive cleanup and formatting" of the data to actually identify flagged specimens. The authors conclude that these downsides highlight "opportunities for improvement in software tools that allow for more rapid and routine evaluation of autoverification parameters."

Automated cyber and privacy risk management toolkit

Managing cybersecurity within an organization can be challenging, more so when the in-house knowledge and management drive concerning cybersecurity is lacking. But does it have to be so complicated? What tools exist to help organizations sort through and implement proper safeguards for their cyber infrastructure, and in particular their associated privacy-specific data? In this 2021 paper published in Sensors, Gonzalez-Granadillo et al. propose a privacy risk management toolkit called AMBIENT (Automated Cyber and Privacy Risk Management Toolkit) that "not only assesses cyber and privacy risks in a thorough and automated manner, but it also offers decision-support capabilities to recommend optimal safeguards using the well-known repository of the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls." After presenting related work, describing AMBIENT, and showing the results of a demo, the author conclude that "security managers can use AMBIENT’s results as a guide in their decision-making process to define appropriate security policies and strategies that keep risk scores within acceptable levels."

An assessment of heavy metal contaminants related to cannabis-based products in the South African market

In this 2021 article published in Forensic Science International Reports, Viviers et al. present their findings of a wide assessment of heavy metals content in South African cannabis products. Noting a dearth of such research in the South African market, the authors acquired 310 samples (representing seven different sample types) from "cultivators of plants, producers of products, importers, resellers, and pharmaceutical manufacturers" and had them analyzed for their various residues. The authors turned to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) <232>/<233> and the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) Q3D to guide their analyses. After a brief discussion of materials and methods, the authors present their results and conclusions. They found "among all residues analyzed, a Class 1 residue will be present in a third of all samples" (cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury), 15% of all samples failed heavy metal analysis "when compared against the USP <232>/<233> and ICH Q3D oral specification limit," and 44% failed when compared to the specified inhalation limits. The conclude that "when considering the results obtained, it is exceedingly necessary to have an appropriate quality control system in place, especially for heavy metal residues analysis in the current South African market. "

Design of generalized search interfaces for health informatics

Using computer-based resources to find and retrieve healthcare information is increasingly common, whether it's the healthcare professional or a patient. But "search can be challenging, particularly for health informatics tasks that utilize large and complex document sets," notes Demelo and Sedig in their 2021 paper published in Information. This led the authors to examine the current state of healthcare informatics and develop an ontology-based search interface called ONTSI. Based on insights from previously published research on health informatics information retrieval, the authors discuss the criteria, design elements, and strategies they used to develop ONTSI. After explaining the results of their work, via a use case, the authors conclude that their tool "ONTSI supplies a generalized interface that supports users’ ability to plug-and-play their provided document sets and an ontology file as a mediating resource within the interface when performing their health informatics search tasks."

Comparative performance of SARS-CoV-2 lateral flow antigen tests and association with detection of infectious virus in clinical specimens: A single-centre laboratory evaluation study

In this 2021 article published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, Pickering et al. present their findings concerning the comparison of antigen lateral flow devices (LFDs) for COVID-19 and virus infectivity, noting their study is "the largest to date assessing the correlation between [cycle threshold] values, quantitative culture of infectious virus, and antigen test positivity, alongside an unbiased head-to-head comparison of six commercial antigen tests." The authors thoroughly discuss their methods, including acquisition and use of study samples, use of qRT-PCR, choosing of rapid antigen tests, development of viral growth assays, and use of statistical analysis. After presenting their results and discussing them in detail, the authors conclude that their "data support the judicious use of LFDs for rapid antigen detection: not to replace PCR testing, but to supplement current testing capacity and rapidly identify infected individuals in situations in which they would otherwise go undetected," and that the benefits of careful LFD use "outweigh the risk of missing positive cases."

A proposed method of sample preparation and homogenization of hemp for the molecular analysis of cannabinoids

Analysis of Cannabis and its constituents is seemingly always in a state of improvement and revision as we continue to learn more about the plant. In this 2021 paper published in SN Applied Sciences, Morehouse et al. propose another improvement to cannabinoid molecule concentration determinations for the purposes of differentiating hemp from marijuana and other potency testing measures. In their paper, the authors turn to an “active grinding media" using a bead mill for homogenizing the plant and improving cannabinoid recovery for testing. After explaining their methodology, presenting their results, and discussing their findings, the authors conclude that their method results in "increased cannabinoid recovery when compared to larger particle size homogenates, and no alterations in the carboxylation profiles of CBDA or THCA during processing." This proves to be a boon to those who need "to maintain the highest of potency and purity standards when moving forward with their molecular analysis."

Cybersecurity and privacy risk assessment of point-of-care systems in healthcare: A use case approach

In this 2021 paper published in the journal Applied Sciences, Jofre et al. discuss the cybersecurity and privacy requirements associated with point-of-care (POC) and health information systems in the field of healthcare. In particular, the authors "propose a use-case approach to assess specifications of cybersecurity and privacy requirements of POC systems in a structured and self-contained form." After introducing the concept of cybersecurity in POC and other medical devices, they discuss their use case in the scope of the European Union's Secure and Private Health Data Exchange (CUREX) software platform for delivering better trust and security to applications in the healthcare domain. They provide in-depth details about their use case, its technical development, and its implementation in CUREX. They then discuss their results, concluding that as cybersecurity and privacy protection requirements continue to be implemented in healthcare, validated use cases such as their own will be vital for healthcare facilities adopting POC and related technologies, as they will further ensure "the highest quality for what is actually being delivered on the ground or showing promise in terms of developments in the pipeline."

Public health informatics, human factors, and the end-users

In this brief commentary article published in Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology, Matthews and Proctor of the University of Central Florida argue that simply building out public health informatics infrastructure isn't enough to ensure better public health data and improved health outcomes in the populace. The duo notes that when considering the build out of such technologies, it's vital the implementing organization(s) ask "who are we building this product for, and do we have the right information to back up our theories on implementation and use?” Improved technology skills within the public health workforce aren't enough, they argue, and important human factors research is being neglected when planning for systems implementations. After discussing the importance of health factors research in public health practice and what it should look like, they conclude with four critical recommendations for new and existing public health informatics implementations, including stakeholder collaboration, theoretically informed and validated data collection, proper documentation, and malleable but well-informed technology requirements statements for the future.

Fostering reproducibility, reusability, and technology transfer in health informatics

In this 2021 perspectives article published in the journal iScience, Hauschild et al. of Philipps University of Marburg lay out what they believe to be the first guidelines for an academic organization needing to incorporate a manageable and approachable quality management system (QMS) to support academic research, particularly that involving software developed in-house. Noting the challenges of academic scientific software development in health informatics and bioinformatics environments, the authors propose flexible quality management mechanisms as a means to "facilitate technology transfer as much as possible while keeping the overhead for researchers and developers in a well manageable range." After presenting the foundational guidelines for academic organizations to implement to not only promote reproducibility and reusability, but also support FAIR principles, the authors conclude that their guidelines effectively lower "the hurdle for research organizations to set up quality management" and " significantly facilitate reproducibility and reusability of scientific software and speed up technology transfer in a controlled and predictable way."

Development of a core competency framework for clinical informatics

Clinical informatics continues to be a vital component for helping to ensure quality clinical outcomes for patients. But what of those who must learn about clinical informatics and what it entails? What of its core competencies for learning? Davies et al. explore this topic in the scope of the United Kingdom and the NHS, noting that no national core competency framework for clinical informatics exists in that country. The authors provide an introduction to clinical informatics and a background review of building their Core Competencies Project in an attempt to develop a U.K.-based competency framework. Their methods—heavily leaning on interviews and a survey—are then described, along with the resulting final competency framework. After a discussion of their results and their limitations, the authors conclude that their mixed-methods approach allowed them to "take a systematic and structured approach to co-designing the framework with no major issues," adding that the "combination of qualitative and quantitative methods contributed to the robustness of the final output." However, the application of the framework still requires professional considerations and attentiveness to the needs of all stakeholders to ensure it's not too unwieldy, which can lead to knowledge "burnout."

Strategies for laboratory professionals to drive laboratory stewardship

This 2021 article published in the journal Practical Laboratory Medicine examines laboratory testing in the scope of quality management and laboratory stewardship programs and the long-term benefits they bring to an organization. White et al. first discuss the evolution of quality in the laboratory and then introduce the concept of "laboratory stewardship" and its ability to improve patient care. The rest of the work focuses on implementing such a program and presenting a hypothetical case study to show how a laboratory stewardship program can have a practical impact on a healthcare system. The authors conclude that a well-implemented stewardship program "presents a valuable opportunity for laboratory professionals to engage with clinical colleagues and drive change." They also distill their work down to five key elements required for making such programs have maximum impact: "1) a clear vision and organizational alignment; 2) appropriate skills for program execution and management; 3) resources to support the program; 4) incentives to motivate participation; and, 5) a plan of action that articulates program objectives and metrics."

Essential oil of Cannabis sativa L: Comparison of yield and chemical composition of 11 hemp genotypes

In this 2021 journal article published in Molecules, Pieracci et al. present the results of a two-year analysis and comparison of cannabis constituents in the essential oil of 11 hemp genotypes using gas chromatography—mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Noting prior researchers' difficulties in comparing "the chemical composition of the essential oils extracted from different Cannabis sativa L. genotypes," the researchers strived to conduct a thorough examination, demonstrating the ability of GC-MS methods to make the analyses necessary to determine most constituents, as well as "promote their employment as value-added by-products based on their peculiar characteristics." Through their efforts, the researchers were able to identify 116 compounds, representing 90.6–99.4% of the total composition of the essential oils (EO) gathered. After analyzing their results, the authors concluded "that both the EO chemical profile and extraction yield were significantly influenced by the genotype of the starting material, the year of cultivation, and the interaction between these two factors."

Cybersecurity impacts for artificial intelligence use within Industry 4.0

This brief journal article published in Scientific Bulletin examines how organizations can mitigate the risks of implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and other Industry 4.0 technologies into manufacturing centers, particularly in regards to cybersecurity. Maurice Dawson of the Illinois Institute of Technology first gives a brief introduction on AI and cybersecurity, highlighting that "data science management" incorporates important technology skills, while also highlighting that the recognition of the cybersecurity component of data science management is perhaps lacking. Dawson then discusses the trend of Industry 4.0 and the promise it holds for manufacturers, while also addressing the ever-changing environment and the risks that must be highlighted within it. Noting the importance of manufacturing with the U.S. in particular, the author concludes that "as AI becomes increasingly prominent in critical industries such as manufacturing, it is essential to ensure that proper security controls are in place to thwart any possible threat, whether internal or external."

Cross-border data transfer regulation in China

In this English review article published in the journal Rivista Italiana di Informatica e Diritto, University of Macerata's Yuan Li "aims to systematically and chronologically describe Chinese regulations for cross-border data exchange." Given the growth of cloud-based systems and data management of clients around the world, doing business with Chinese businesses and individuals requires a better understanding of transfer regulations in the country. Li first explains the concepts behind global data transfer and some of the agreements and soft laws that have sprung up as a result of increasing cross-border transfers, as well as the problems that arise. Li then goes into a detailed review of China's data protection laws, as well as how they are enforced and who enforces them. Then the author examines the data export regulations that have evolved in China. The conclusion is that there are still limitations to China's approaches to building a regulatory framework for data protection and transfer; however, "there are various positive dynamic developments in the framing of China’s cross-border data regulation." Yet further agreements with other nations will still depend on future developments in "multilateral trade and investment negotiations."
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