Wednesday, 7 November 2018

'Amar a diferença' - a real case of a wonderful child diagnosed with Optokinetic Nystagmus

When I moved from Portugal to England I was taken straight to the second year of a BSc Hons in Biotechnology for I had already completed basically 75% of my degree in Biotechnological Engineering (in the Algarve). I remember that in the first year in the University of Nottingham I was given the so much needed freedom to research on a topic of my interest, produce a dissertation on it and add my own future perspectives on the chosen subject. I had always been mad about endocrinology but that time, whilst I browsed through many different medical issues, I was confronted with an incurable disease that caused me so much affliction. Unfortunately a cure was still to be found. The image of a young male child that couldn't maintain his eyes still, in order to visually process images. His eye globes were constantly and erratically moving up and down, left to right and left again, in rapid nervous tweaks that had to be prohibitive of the normal perceiving of spaces surrounding him. I thought, how could a child interpret and absorb information with such 'frenetic' irregular ocular movements... plus all the extras that derive from that condition and are not immediately 'visible' to anyone. It had to be utterly incomprehensible; from my point of view.

I immediately started reading and writing about the topic in order to produce a piece of work on that kid's condition, clinically known as "Optokinetic Nystagmus".

But life sometimes reserves us some incredible moments. As I was on holidays this last August 2018 in Monte Gordo (Portugal), I passed by some kid drawing stuff as he was looking so strangely close to the surface of the table. That made me curious! I approached a small group that had gathered around, to read the banner on the back of a stand and look into some copies of a book distributed on yet another stand. Suddenly, these very incredibly amicable parents that were debiting on their personal experience as parents of a child with... yes... Nystagmus, approached me. I was then given the opportunity to exchange some words with them on their personal experience and how terribly difficult it was from the medical diagnosis (the doctor who informed them of such was unfortunately devoid of the 'empathy gene') to the moment they had to change their lives upside down in order to face the financial obligations that came along. It is indeed a story of courage, dedication, learning, comprehending, accepting, working positively and above all, loving. Loving their son, never stop believing that no disability in a humane world should ever mean blockade, inhibition, total incapacity, misery or disenchantment. They did what we should all do in times of irreversible impact: adapt, learn, share.

And so they wrote a book about their whole trajectory through a personal adaptation/education on the topic, as well as in making sure people out there would understand, accept and include children affected by nystagmus in the normal activities a child can undertake. It was an incredible moment for me when I purchased the book and this kid, Simao Rodrigues, signed it for me, took a picture, spoke to me for a while and showed me once again that nothing in life is 'just because'!

If you also wish to learn more about this child's story, their tackling of preconceptions and ignorant prejudice, their process of becoming familiar to a 'devastating' medical problem, please access here. And if possible engage with the many things that are taking place. There is always something one will be able to do. And because I do not wish to flood this post with loads of scientific information, I leave you with a short yet very informative video by the University of Chicago that can shed some light on the matter, if you're not so familiar with it.

To Simao, his parents, and everyone that allows him to fulfill his life as it always should be occuring - a huge huge huge thank you for this incredible opportunity!

Educating is Loving and Love is Educational!


 [A]

[A] Optokynetic nystagmus, University of Chigago, [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca9vR4ypMbU], last visited on the 7th of November 2018, last updated on the 27th of September 2017.

Post image: TheToxicologistToday with Simao Rodrigues at Monte Gordo - Portugal, August 2018.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Head to Alzheimer's, the putative link between a football career and neurocognitive diseases


I'm a crazy football-head! I breath, read, feed on everything that relates to football. I beg you to call it Football, not Soccer. Whoever came up with this name should be trialled!!! But I don't take offence easy so you're all excused as long as you keep reading to the end of this post. 

Every Saturday night I sit and watch this football TV show 'Match of the Day' that has been going on forever in the UK.  And as always Gary Lineker, a former football player that needs no introductions, is there with his guest panel criticising/acclaiming the weekend football results, goals, saves, performances, Mourinho's grumpiness :P and the like. The program is just that, a gourmet menu of football for football fans. But there was one specific moment in a random episode where they sat down for a while debating the possible link between a long football career, full of headings (head against ball) and concussions, and the onset of neurocognitive degeneration. Seriously! It got so interesting that time I just wanted to learn more about it. Would it be possible a link between neurocognitive degeneration and a career in football due to constantly heading balls? I had to research about it and I found a number of articles that can shed light on this topic but nothing immediately on heading balls. Surprisingly, I also found out that there's a lot of research emerging on this topic and soon certain observations will mature into consistent conclusions ready for discussion.  

 [B]

As I said just now I wasn't able to find many articles immediately relating football head injuries resulting from the recurrent heading of a football ball. In addition, the science out there is still dominated by American institutions and therefore pretty much everything found verses American Football (rugby with medieval plastic armours!!!). These were in my opinion the most interesting pieces I was able to read:

Guskiewicz et al (2005) [1] - Cerebral concussion is a recurrent injury in football but the neurological effects that occur as a result are yet not so clear. Some authors researched the relationship between previous head injuries and the probability of cognitive impairment/Alzheimer's disease by analysing a group of retired professional footballers who had had a previous head injury. After statistical study of the results observed (Chi square statistical test with two degrees of freedom negating a chance relationship) it was concluded that the occurrence of dementia-related syndromes 'may' be triggered by recurrent cerebral injuries resulting from a career in football. Retired players that had experienced 3 concussions had five times more prevalence of mild cognitive impairment and 3 times more the number of memory loss episodes. The authors could not establish a clear bridge between the series of concussions and Alzheimer's disease, but were able to hypothesise that for retired professional players who had these injuries Alzheimer's disease was happening earlier when compared to the general American male population.

Omalu et al (2005) [2] -  Case-studies always have their huge limitations, especially if not cross-linked with other more embracing studies to draw the most complete scenario, however, these authors analysed the full autopsy (with comprehensive neuropathological examination) results of a former football player that had been complaining of cognitive impairment, mood disorder and parkinsonian symptoms. The positive link between the long-term neurodegenerative outcomes was established with many cerebral observations (particularly with the presence of diffuse amyloid (protein) plaques - one of the Hallmark's of Alzheimer's disease as due to chronic brain trauma they accumulate as insoluble plaques between neurons, contrarily to what happens in healthy brains where these protein 'pieces' are metabolised and eliminated from the organism [3]. In fact, amyloid-beta plaques can be found in patients just a few hours after traumatic brain injury occurs, and the link between these protein plaques and Alzheimer's disease has been thoroughly studied (check Johnson et al (2010) [4] for an idea on the mechanics of this link). Nevertheless, the most surprising fact considering this player is that there was no family history of Alzheimer's disease and no records of him having had any head trauma outside his football career!!!

Small et al (2013) [5] - Five retired National football League players with ages going from 45 to 73 years old were studied using positron emission tomography (PET) with FDDNP (a molecule that binds to plaques (see [6] for more information on how the process goes mechanically) against five control subjects of comparable age, education and BMI (body mass index). Researchers analysed their PET signals in cortical and subcortical regions and came to the conclusion that, even though the results are for a very limited population and do not come along autopsy validation, FDDNP signals were higher in players in comparison to the healthy control subjects, in all the studied subcortical regions and in the amygdala -  the areas responsible for post-trauma tau deposition. Tau proteins are molecules that stabilise the microtubules in the nerve cells.

Many studies that are now arising on the mechanical damage of the brain have inherent methodological limitations. Hence, they must be taken merely as exploratory research. What does it mean? It means that these studies are merely tentative research studies to build up and interlink initial ideas that down the line will feed the very first dogmas/theories. Add to that a natural 'skepticism' from those who control the riches of the football market/organisation and you'll understand that even within NFL there is still some resistance in accepting the causal relation between consecutive head concussions and early cognitive decline later in life [7]. But the matter of fact is that there is definitely enough substance to at least indicate where the future research should go as results point towards a definitive incidence of cases where this link is scientifically verified and confirmed, as I have just explored above. Moreover, because not all players will immediately reveal signs of chronic traumatic encefalopathy [8] research out there needs to not only expand the range of observed population but also the depth of their scrutinising. For example, an interesting approach is the one taken by Marchi et al (2013) [9] where players were assessed after their matches took place and that allowed concluding that blood-brain barrier disruption occurred even in the absence of concussion, thus supporting the possibility that a long career of heading football balls could be linked to the early onset of Alzheimer's and other neurocognitive diseases.

I hope you've enjoyed today's post. Leave me a few comments or just drop a well-done message!

Any corrections or tips are also welcome.


[1] Guskiewicz, K. M., Marshall, S. W., Bailes, J. et al (2005). "Association between recurrent  concussion and late-life  cognitive impaiment in retired professional football players". Neurosurgery, 57(4), pp. 719-726.

[2] Omalu, B. I., DeKosky, S. T., Mynster, R. L. (2005). "Chronic traumatic encefalopathy in a National Football League player". Neurosurgery, 57(1). pp. 128-134.

[3] Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, BrightFocus Foundation, [https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/infographic/amyloid-plaques-and-neurofibrillary-tangles], last updated on the 21st of December 2017, last visited on the 1st of November 2018.

[4] Johnson, V. E., Stewart, W., Smith, D. H. (2010). "Traumatic brain injury and amyloid-beta pathology: a link to Alzheimer's disease?". Nature Reviews Neuroscience,11, pp. 361-370.

[5] Small,  G. W., Kepe, V., Siddhart, P. et al (2013). "PET scanning of brain Tau in retired National Football league players: Preliminary findings". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 21(2), pp. 138-144.

[6] Ercoli, L. M.,  Siddarth, P., Kepe, V. et al (2009). "Differential FDDNP PET in non-demented middle aged and older adults". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 17(5), pp. 397-406.

[7] Kain, D. J. (2009). "It's just a concussion: The National Football League's denial of a causal link between multiple concussions and later-life cognitive decline". HeinOnline [https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/rutlj40&div=22&id=&page=], last visited on the 06-Nov-2018, last update unknown. 

[8] Hazrati, L-N., Tartaglia, M. C., Diamandis, P. et al (2013). "Absence of chronic traumatic encefalopathyin retired football players with multiple concussions and neurological symptomatology". Human Neuroscience, 7(222), pp. 1 -12.

[9] Marchi, N., Bazarian, J. J., Puvena, V. et al (2013). "Consequences of repeated blood-brain barrier disruption in football players". PLOS One, 8(3), pp. 1-11.

Post Photo by Kenny Webster on Unsplash

[B] Photo by John Torcasio on Unsplash

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

I'm still writing a book

One of my new year resolutions was and still is to write an e-book on nosocomial infections. I am no stranger to writing, especially in my native language, it has always been a passion of mine alongside Science, Music, Football, Literature, Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman. I've always wanted to develop my communication skills with a piece of information that'd be relevant, contemporary and pertinent. By the end of January 2018 I was informing this blog's readers that I was game (see Here). Something that is simultaneously scary and challenging, but personally, I am loving it. Almost 9 months on and the first words are being put to the test. Yep, I am very much still in the early process of defining the direction this e-book will take. Completion will definitely take a while, but I have now ticked one of the most important parts of the process (I'll explain it better later on) ... and with it  triggered the creative momentum that will provide the necessary energy to the process.

But writing a book is much more than a simple 'arrogant' intention. It is an education process to/of the writer itself. The structuring, the going past the fluff and the irrelevant information. Just for starters there is an intense organisation process boiling up within one's brain, and that simply to be able to structure things in a manner that will allow a speedier and cleaner writing flow. I followed an initial set of steps that I personally consider crucial to ignite the process:

The first thing I did when I took the decision to prepare a guide on nosocomial infections (entirely based on free scientific articles available on the web) was to separate the many relevant articles I managed to find through a set of 9 folders; and that just to organise my brains. The amounts of information out there is vast and I needed an initial filtering process that later on will develop into proper chapters, sub-chapters, sections and sub-sections thus giving an early body to the final document. The temporary folders I've created and that do not have to match the final chapters' distribution or classification are listed below:

- Definition
- Prevalence
- Epidemiology,
- Infection,
- Control,
- Economy,
- Some important viruses,
- Reviews,
- Antibiotic resistance.

Definition will be defining nosocomial infections as practical and theoretical objects/ideas.

Prevalence and Epidemiology will analyse the numbers around prevalence of different types of pathogens, incidence, geographical regions, involvement of clinical premises, etc.

Infection will talk about the different ailments and health problems caused by said pathogens.

Control will cover the many different approaches that are clinically/organisationally applied to prevent and correct the onset and spread of these infections/contagion vectors.

Economy will be covering the financial aspects related to the impact of nosocomial infections on the different health services and government budgets.

Some important viruses because I honestly believe that pointers toward other types of infection vectors should be addressed, even if just in a generalised manner.

Reviews always help the writer think the writing process through because these can be used as an induction on the overall context (via the thinking process of other more experienced people).

Antibiotic resistance will cover the many problematic and challenging resistances that these nosocomial pathogens are gaining and that represent one of the biggest health challenges for clinical premises worldwide.

***

The second thing I did, having in mind how important it is to keep up with the new information that is frequently published, was to start a PubMed alert email that will periodically inform me of the newest publications on nosocomial infections, hence providing me with an immediate look on whether relevant information was made available to the public. That will help me keep the book actual and more informative.

***

I am now transiting to the part where I actually prepare a PowerPoint with the ongoing structure of the eBook itself. This is highly entertaining and will be continuously mutable as I read through the thick load of pre-selected articles.

If you have any ideas, instructions, hints, guidelines, opinions on how to make this eBook writing up and self-publishing journey a success, please let me know. If you have any stories that you'd like to share or data that you find valuable, contact me privately (private message on Twitter, Facebook or gmail) and I will be more than happy to talk to you.

Cheers

Post image kindly taken from [https://www.epicbundle.com/bundle/the-ebook-self-publishing-bundle]

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Why do PhD students quit and what can universities do to prevent it?

Three years ago I was just about to start writing my PhD thesis when I eventually came across one of the most pertinent questions one can find about a research career in academia. The question was posted by a researcher from the University of Tartu (I believe this is an university in Estonia). I read the question time and time again and the answer that I thought was the most appropriate and reasonable to explain the problem postulated was so evidently clear to me. Nevertheless, as I always do, I also read through the many other opinions different commentators had left to conjecture on the issue presented. I agreed partly with a few ideas there posted, with others I was in total disagreement. I then decided to contribute with my own opinion that in my personal judgement best approached and explained, as a whole, the problem that was brought to analysis. 

I couldn't believe that three years in my comment would still resonate in other people who agree with me on the different points covered, and made it the third most recommended comment on that specific topic. My disbelief is not based on any lack of confidence/validity on the things I write or think or say. But because the topic itself, be it for students and/or PIs, is always a delicate one (for none of the involved want to hurt any sensitive spirits) people usually approach it from a safe standpoint. Respectfully, and in a considerate manner as then, I am also posting it here for you to read and think about it.


The Question



My Comment


Find here the link to the post where you can also read several other comments from very academia-experienced people.

Why not leave your own opinion here or there?!

Thanks a lot.

Post image kindly taken from [https://nicholaskawa.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/how-academic-hierarchy-shapes-the-distribution-of-precarity/].

Friday, 21 September 2018

On the neurotoxicity of caterpillars resulting in visual impairment

It was the hot dry Summer of 2018 when I got a message from a North American reader of The Toxicologist Today (right when I was sunbathing at a crowded beach whilst munching on 'Bolas de Berlim' like a very hungry caterpillar). After getting home for lunch there was a brief exchange of messages where I promised the kind reader I'd do the best I could to write a post on her afflictions, if she promised me she'd seek urgent medical advice. However, my mobile crashed. It crashed so hard that still today I cannot find the messages said person sent me, I cannot recall in what platform had we been having such brief chat, I cannot remember anything else but the fact that this person had a dog who had been playing with caterpillars and she has been (since then) with impaired vision, nausea and dizziness.

I remember expressing my deepest concern to this person and telling her time and time again that I am not a medical doctor, I am a Medical Information Specialist, a God damn good one :) but still, not a medical doctor... and definitely not a Guru Healer.

The person still asked me to inform her on any knowledge I had concerning studies covering the neurotoxicity of that specific caterpillar (still cannot precise which one) especially those with reported effects on the nervous system resulting in vision impairment.

Ai ai ai ai ai, we say in Portuguese when we are concerned about something that might prove serious. Once again I redirected the reader to her GP, stressing that if possible she should look for a speciality appointment after checking with the GP. But with very limited time in my hands and so many different projects still in progress, I could not really dedicate much time to said post... until now. I found about 30 minutes yesterday and today to do the best possible search within such time frame, even though I have no clue if the reader was talking about the Giant Silkworm Moth Caterpillar or the Oak Processionary Moth, or one of the many other that just inhabit this whole wide world. One thing I got to remember, the person was from the USA! So that will restrict the beasts to just those living and munchin' within them 3,797 million square miles that comprise the United States of America! Easy-Peasy :/

For the first time and because scientifically accurate referenced free information on the neurotoxicity of caterpillars resulting in vision impairment is not so much available out there, I had to resort to a couple of pages [1] [2] bearing no scientific references. If any of you find any inaccuracy, please let me know about it promptly so I can correct the article as best as possible. I looked for the most nasty caterpillars inhabiting the USA territory as I kind of recall the reader stating something in the lines of "my doctor told me it is unlikely that caterpillars affect our vision... it might be stress". Therefore, I decided to look for those that comprise the hardcore line of attack and I found these four:

Acharia stimulea (Eastern USA)



Megalopyge opercularis (Central America)



Automeris io (Southern US)



Lophocampa caryae (Central America)



After reducing the list of candidates to just four I had to look for any articles on envenomation causing blurry vision (and the like) that among all other symptoms was the one the reader was most concerned about. I found an article by Agarwal et al (2017) on Ophtalmia nodosa (inflammation of the eye when particles [could be caterpillar's hair] lodge in the conjunctiva, cornea or even iris. However, as the author puts it, this is a rare condition but a serious one that can result in loss of eye because of the constant inflammation within the vitreous humour. In the case-study they analysed there is a physical observation of the many caterpillar hairs that were present in the patient's eye where they used ultrasound biomicroscopy. This patient had blurring of vision and diminution of vision just like my reader reported, so the putative presence of caterpillar hairs in her vitreous humour could be another important thing for her to report to her doctor. In addition, this article also refers that their patient had some of the hairs removed and that the eye was "quiet for two months", but then the diminution of vision persisted when the inflammation returned after they stopped the anti-inflammatories (oral corticosteroids). The reason being that many other minute hairs can take months to years to be physically removed by movements of the ocular globe; moreover there are glands connected to the caterpillar's hairs that contain a toxin named thaumetopoein (an urticating protein) that induces inflammation. In this specific case, corticosteroids provided some peace but did not resolve the issue entirely as the hair still needed to be physically removed as thaumetopoein would always be causing inflammation to the area of contact. The NHS talks about the use of an antihistamine cream to antagonise the nefarious effects of thaumetopoein, as preferable approach [4].

In summary, caterpillar dermatitis (known as lepidopterism) can result in inflammatory ocular lesions when hairs come into contact with the different layers of the ocular globe, as discussed above. In fact, Rosen (1990) [5] actually discusses it so well in an article covering such matters and that deserves your uttermost attention. As the author suggests, there has been reports that these hairs can induce pruritus (itching), burning and painful dermatitis resulting in ocular lesions that can come with comorbidities such as neuropathy, convulsions, arrhytmia and dyspnea. Some of these same issues were reported by my reader!!!

It was indeed extremely difficult to find free information available in the Internet on these matters, but on Medscape one can read that when the ocular globe comes into contact with hairs from the M. opercularis (the puss caterpillar I already told you about) the resulting erucism (envenomation by caterpillars) might be counteracted by H1 and/or H2 blockers (antihistamines), but if there's pain the doctors might have to use narcotic analgesics [6].

That is the information I hope my reader is now glancing her eyes through. I honestly hope she is feeling much better and that she visited her doctor for a professional observation. For all of you who just reached this post, whatever reason brought you here, I hope you found useful info.


[1] 5 of the world's most toxic caterpillars, SunnyScope, [https://www.sunnysports.com/blog/5-worlds-toxic-caterpillars/], last update unknown, last visited on the 20th of September 2018.

[2] Stinging caterpillars of the United States, The Ark in Space, [http://www.arkinspace.com/2011/05/stinging-caterpillars-of-united-states.html], last visited on the 21st of September 2018, last update on the 12th of June 2016.

[3] Agarwal, M., Acharya, M. C., Majumdar, S., Paul, L. (2017). "Managing multiple caterpillar hair in the eye". Indian Journal of Opthalmology, 65(3), pp. 248-250.

[4] Health warning over invading moth, NHS, [https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/health-warning-over-invading-moth/], last updated on the 4th of August 2010, last visited on the 21st of September 2018.

[5] Rosen, T. (1990). "Caterpillar dematitis". Dermatologic Clinics, 8(2), pp. 245-252.

[6] Caterpillar envenomation, Medscape, [http://misc.medscape.com/pi/iphone/medscapeapp/html/A772949-business.html], last visited on the 21st of September 2018, last update unknown.

Friday, 7 September 2018

The Stanford Prison Experiment

By now you've probably come across a movie that revisits a fairly extreme research project developed in the 70s by the American Psychologist, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, where a prison has been recreated and 24 male students were originally placed in to cohabit as guards and inmates (for an intended period of no more than two weeks). Well, a lot has been learned from this quite radical initiative, but above all, this experiment gave everyone a clear sense of how scientific experiments need adequate planning and ample consideration. It is not just because of the psychological atmosphere surrounding every particular aspect of the whole research, something that from the perspective of researchers and subjects would on its own be material for further progressive analysis. But also due to the fact that its originality does not really contradicts a perception of non-applicability, but simultaneously antagonises itself for the lack of primary support.

What I mean with all this jibber-jabber is that when you are the first to lay your brains on analysing something that lacks validity from previous studies, then you're off to something either boring or epic. Boring would be if the construction of the whole scenario and emotional participation of the tested subjects would have been so fake it'd have created a false sense of reality, thus producing false positive/negative results, ergo resulting in makeshift observations. Epic would be, as it was, when the immersing of the subjects (and additional players) into the testing is so naturally achieved, that suddenly there is a sense of hyper reality for a sub-scenario, usually attained when most of ones' strings to the wider reality are cut and the smaller constrained sub-scenario becomes gradually your wider reality.

What do I really mean with all this? I am obviously trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible. As a cinematographic portrait of the actual research experiment that took place in Stanford University, the movie is way to good (in my humble opinion) to be ignored. And the real events that feed it are way too relevant (historically) to be mistaken by just another movie. 

There is a lot more in it for us to interpret that goes far beyond the simplistic plot. There is an intricate boiling of our own self-knowledge, a complex web of uncontrolled behavior in ourselves that can be triggered by external and internal forces when one sees oneself as part of a greater power or as the unfortunate victim of a greater injustice. Fortunately, this movie, as well as the experience that brings up to the wider audience, is not dense in scientific facts or boring jargon and idiosyncrasies. This movie is incredibly good in showing how thin the line is between Victim -> Power <- Repressor. A line that is not straight nor entangled (in my opinion). It is simply a volatile equation telling you that Power makes the oppressor if the victim chooses to be a greater victim than expected, and Injustice makes you the trigger of Great Oppression when you respond to injustice in a reactionary fashion.

Wow, how incredibly hard it is not to bring loads of spoilers here and still try to make any sense.

I don't really enjoy embedding videos as they eventually are taken away from their original sources and I end up with mismatching content. But look at the trailer of this incredible movie and be the judge of this piece of history that shaped important changes in the way Power/Subservience/Research are nowadays considered.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

SciBoard Games is 4 years old!


Tomorrow SciBoard Games will be 4 years old. In 4 years and with a tight budget we managed to release a digital game for the Android system "Adna's Lab" (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sciboardgames.adna), produce a board game, participate in the final of the European Educational Games Competition in Scotland, travel to Dusseldorf-Germany to disseminate our product a bit further and even prepared the demo version of a subsequent game (Crime Grid) . Obviously, as with any other project that is time consuming and lives on a very tight budget we wouldn't be able to achieve what we've achieved without the help of many people that worked alongside our team whether in partnership, under a temporary contract, as benefactors or just freelancing. It would be difficult to name names as there were so many involved whilst working together with very creative and prolific people, but they all know and have already received our uttermost appreciation.

Times are now changing and we must reassess our presence in the serious games market, as we also must reassess the best targets for us to invest our drive and energy, so we not only produce profit for ourselves (as it should be with any other company), but also participate strongly in the education of the young masses that are nowadays so entertained with games and tools and networks that to an extent distract them from the most important educational and human goals.

There is time for everything to be tasted in life: sports, social networks, friends, cinema, music, concerts, gatherings, dating, you name it. However, nothing should be more relevant than education. And that is the reason why, that even for such a small team like ours, a family team with strong family values, the decision to support people in need was mainly focused on two special areas: Education and Health. Through KIVA (https://www.kiva.org/) and GoFundMe, SciBoard Games has been helping financially challenged people with small contributions towards their studies and helping them pay their medical bills. We do it to the extent of our limited capacity, but do not see it as an obligation, rather as a moral value that we will always instill in our children.

The future of SciBoard Games will be decided in the months to come. We might release the demo version of 'Crime Grid' in the virtual tabletop platform Tabletopia (https://tabletopia.com/) where 'Adna's Lab' is already there available for anyone to play with friends all over the world (https://tabletopia.com/games/adna-s-lab). We might try and invest in finding companies interested in purchasing the rights of the digital game 'Adna's Lab' or we can just close doors and move on towards different projects leaving SciBoard Games as a fruitful participation of a family business in the realm of serious/educational games.

Whatever happens we just would like to thank you for being with us throughout these four years. And we ask of you to go spread the message about the different platforms where 'Adna's Lab' has been taken to and distributed completely free to use. If we reach enough people we can therefore consider bringing new games to life and re-energise our small project with big ideas.

Happy Birthday SciBoard Games!