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Car Subscription Service Now Available Nationwide

Today in this digital age, we shop for clothes, book cabs, buy groceries, and even hire on demand home services using apps. Similarly, the automotive industry developed car subscription services that can be accessed via smartphones. Consumers can now subscribe for cars as easily as subscribing for phones plans, skincare products, and footwear.

What is a Car Subscription?

It does not always make a lot of financial sense to buy a car, and some would rather enjoy the convenience and freedom of short-term “ownership.” Automakers now offer car subscription apps where people can rent vehicles on demand for as short as a month, or up to two years.

Car subscriptions don’t even require you to visit a dealership. You simply sign up through their apps or websites, choose a plan, and have the car delivered to you, sometimes in as fast as 24 hours.

Pros and Cons

These programs empower people to have minimal commitment for something that typically requires long-term obligations. There are no overhead costs and complex transactions. And you don’t even have to worry about eventually selling your car.

Car companies provide access to their model lineup, insurance, maintenance, and roadside assistance. Some car subscription providers let you switch vehicles multiple times according to your plan. You can drive a sedan during the weekdays, and exchange it for an SUV for the weekend.

But while offering convenience, there are a few setbacks. One, they can be costly depending on the car subscription. Two, car companies can charge extra fees for wear and tear, and even for smoking, or transporting pets in the vehicles. Three, the car subscription providers may track the car at all times.

A Wealth of Car Subscription Services

BMW is running a pilot program called Access by BMW. At $2,000 a month, BMW gives you access to vehicles like the 4-Series, 5-Series, X5, and M2. At the $3,700 car subscription tier you can drive any of their convertibles M4, M5, M6, X5M, and X6M.

 

Book by Cadillac is one of the first car subscription services. It was initially available only in New York City, and will soon be available in Los Angeles and Dallas. It requires a $500 enrollment fee and a $1,800 monthly fee, but lets you swap cars up to 18 times a year. Your spouse has entitlement to drive the ordered vehicle as well.

Care by Volvo is the only vehicle subscription service that’s available nationwide, and it promises to include all models to the program. Plans start for as low as $600 per month with a $500 deposit which also applies to the first month’s fees. Volvo is lenient in its terms as it allows for $1,000 worth of vehicle damage and excess mileage. Unlike some of the more expensive programs, Volvo only allows car swaps every 12 months.

Mercedez-Benz has its Mercedes-Benz Collection, with plans starting at $1,595 per month. The Premier tier costs $2,995 which allows its subscribers to drive a G550 SUV or an SL550 roadster. Subscribers can also switch to different cars with minimal notice.

Porsche’s Passport is perhaps the most expensive service. Its first tier costs $2,000 per month, and has access to Macans, Boxters, Caymans, and Cayennes. Drivers can get the 911 or the Panamera for the $3,000 monthly Accelerate plan. Unfortunately, the program does not include the GT3 RS.

Third-Party Services

There are other apps out there that are inclusive in terms of budget, models, and subscription lengths. These third-party services are generally cheaper as they include older and cheaper models. Canvas lets users pick the duration of their subscription that become cheaper the longer the subscription. Subscribers can pick from cars ranging from a Ford Fiesta at $329 to a Mustang at $629 per month.

Flexdrive does a weekly payment arrangement for an inclusive market. A Honda Accord can cost only $219 per week. However, it is only currently available in Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas.

Less works more like a traditional lease. It only has three-year contracts with an annual membership of $399, but has a nice selection of luxury cars. This is a viable option for those who are more comfortable with extended commitments.

Borrow offers electric cars. It functions like a rental car service with three-, six-, or nine-month contracts starting at $399. Its Premium tier has a BMW i3 and a Volkswagen eGolf for at least $524, and its Platinum tier offers a Tesla Model S, but is not available to all subscribers. It is currently only available in Los Angeles.

Fair isn’t locked into set lengths for their contracts and lets customers upgrade or return vehicles. Everything is done through the app, including scanning the driver’s license, payments, other vehicle documents, and finding insurance.

People who are curious about vehicle subscriptions will be happy to learn that there are numerous options to explore. It’s a matter of selecting the right program that fits their lifestyle, and they can indulge in the benefits of having a car without the cumbersome commitments.

Johns Hopkins Makes Precision Medicine Oncology Countable

Medical and technological development in the recent years has made a bold impact in the field of oncology. It is now much easier to collect data and conduct molecular profiling for tumors and related complex diseases. This analysis of a patient’s tumor is a significant step toward precision oncology in treating cancer. Molecular profiling will help determine the type of genetic protein changes that occur in the cancer cells. This is a major breakthrough for precision medicine.

Johns Hopkins Develops Countable Precision Oncology
Johns Hopkins Develops Countable Precision Oncology

Precision oncology is gathering attention because of the potential value that it can bring to the medical practice. The truth is no two cases are alike. There will be differences in the genetic makeup, metabolic rate, environment, and lifestyle of the patient.

Doctors should consider all these factors when providing diagnoses and treatments.  Hence, two patients diagnosed with the same cancer subtype may show similar symptoms. Closer scrutiny will reveal that the cancerous cells may be very different at molecular level. The ability to view each case at a personalized level will allow physicians to adjust the treatments based on the individual’s needs.

Too Much, Too Complex

The recent medical advancements and studies about molecular profiling have been yielding positive results in cancer treatment. However, there are still barriers to overcome. Variety and diversity of the collected data is the most notable challenge. From these varied data come the challenge in the interpretation and integration in physicians’ diagnoses and treatments. Because of this need, medical providers are working hard to address this.

With the need to translate complex data to simplified format that focuses more on individual patient’s medical needs and condition, medical researchers at Johns Hopkins led by Donald Geman, professor in Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, published a new personalized oncology method. Researchers presented this new computational method in the recently concluded HIMSS Precision Medicine Summit in Washington, DC, last May 17 to 18, 2018.

The study “Digitizing Omics Profiles by Divergence from a Baseline” aims to bring simplicity in this complex process. With this mathematics-based approach, doctors will be able to read and interpret the data from the results of routine laboratory tests. Such tests include those that are readily and easily accessible like blood count, glucose level, and cholesterol level to name a few. The method works by comparing the patient’s profile to a baseline population, thereby mimicking basic clinical procedures.

Catching the Menace Early

Most of the research in the field of oncology focused on the treatment of advanced stages of cancer. However, the field of diagnostics has been gaining attention lately. Correspondingly, molecular diagnostic tools are seen as the new direction in cancer treatment.  The early detection of this disease increases the chance of surviving it. The researchers at Johns Hopkins are optimistic about the future of precision medicine, specifically the use of advanced mathematics to help simplify complex medical data and allow easier integration of these information in the diagnosis, prognosis, and dispensing appropriate care and treatment for the patients.

New Legislation to Protect Cats from Any Laboratory Research

The aim of the 1896 “Gallinger-DC” bill and passage of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act in 1966 was to promote humane and appropriate use of research animals. The importance of research using animals have often been emphasized by scientists, physicians, and research hospitals. However, a well-known American politician is taking animal safety to the next level as he presents a new law that would shield an unconventional test subject for lab trails.

Mike Bishop, a U.S. Republican Representative, is on a mission to protect animals, especially cats, from becoming test subjects for the United States laboratories. Reports suggested that 2.3% of animals (out of 820,812 total number of animals) used for trials are cats. Recently, Bishop introduced a legislation that would protect cats from being a subject to different laboratory experimentations.

The name of the bill is “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act in 2018” known also as the KITTEN Act. It aims to stop the exploitation of cats and kittens in laboratory research.

Jimmy Panetta of California, a Democratic Representative, is also on board because he will co-sponsor the said act. The KITTEN Act’s first order of business focuses on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It will forbid the department to use cats and kittens as lab rats. Bishop and Panetta believe that experiments done to cats cause the animal to feel pain and stress.

According to Bishop, “The USDA must stop killing kittens, and I hope to work collaboratively with the agency towards that goal.”

What Made Bishop to Introduce the KITTEN Act?

Cats are fed with Toxoplasma-infected meat then incinerated after

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” This proverb best describes Bishop’s action of creating the bill.

The USDA’s taxpayer-funded research is already enough reason for the Republican Representative to pass a bipartisan law.

A taxpayer watchdog group called the White Coat Waste Project collaborated with Bishop about an experiment from the USDA’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. The watchdog group says that the experiment is causing the deaths of hundreds of cats and kittens.

In a document submitted by the White Coat Waste Project, the lab raises different types of kittens. Researchers and scientists feed the cats with Toxoplasma-infected meat. They would then kill and incinerate the cats.

Justin Goodman is the Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for the White Coat Waste Project. He said that since 1982, the Maryland-based laboratory has been utilizing cats for research about Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Goodman, however,  obtained documents after filing a request for the Freedom of Information Act last year of December.

Toxoplasma is a parasitic disease that causes health problems. The parasite affects pregnant women and people with a weak immune system.

Reasoning Out

The Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory is primarily doing the research because they want to make food safer and protect people as well.

A spokesperson stated, “The Agricultural Research Service-USDA (ARS) makes every effort to minimize the number of cats used to produce eggs required to research one of the most widespread parasites in the world. The cats are essential to the success of this critical research. “

The representative also added that cats are essential to exploration. They believe that the animal is the only one that can excrete the environmentally resistant stage of the parasite.

The aim of the USDA’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory is to lessen the spread of Toxoplasma. The Maryland-based lab inspects research animals regularly. Additionally, they comply with best management practices when it comes to animal research.

In spite of its great purpose to help out, Bishop reminded the laboratory to use taxpayer dollars more effectively, efficiently, and humanely.

Without the expose from the White Coat Waste Project, Bishop would not be able to pass the bill.

Combating Autoimmune Disease with Baking Soda!

Baking soda is a favorite cleaning tool in most homes. It also serves as a whitening agent. But, did you now that baking soda can help fight autoimmune diseases? Yes! Researchers reveal that regular consumption of baking soda can help alleviate inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG)  recently published the result of their study in the Journal of Immunology. The team presented evidence on how baking soda encourages the spleen to create an anti-inflammatory environment. The results may be achieved by taking simple and inexpensive antacids (sodium bicarbonate) bought over the counter.

The experiment was conducted on both rats and humans. The findings showed that drinking a solution of baking soda triggers the stomach to create more acid to help digest the next meal. It also signals the mesothelial cells on the spleen not to generate a protective immune response.

The spleen is part of the body’s immune system and serves as a blood filter. It also stores white blood cells, like microphages, and mounts an immune response when it thinks the body is under attack.

Baking Soda and Mesothelial Cells

Dr. Paul O’Connor, a renal physiologist at Augusta University, is the study’s corresponding author. He says drinking baking soda or sodium bicarbonate affects the spleen through the mesothelial cells.

They line the body cavities, and act as a protective covering for vital organs to keep them from rubbing against one another. The mesothelial cells have “microvilli” or little fingers which warn the organs of invaders or infections. The signal, in turn, triggers an immune response.

“In the spleen, as well as the blood and kidneys, they found after drinking water with baking soda for two weeks, the population of immune cells called macrophages, shifted from primarily those that promote inflammation, called M1, to those that reduce it, called M2. Macrophages, perhaps best known for their ability to consume garbage in the body like debris from injured or dead cells, are early arrivers to a call for an immune response,” the Science Daily reported.

Moreover, O’Connor said that their clinical trials on baking soda showed reduced acidity in the blood of subjects with chronic kidney disease. It also slowed the progression of the disease itself. Patients now receive a daily dose of baking soda as part of therapy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are an estimated 30 million adults in the US with chronic kidney disease.

“The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere,” O’Connor says. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”

Getting to Know Acetylcholine

The signal that triggers or mediates anti-inflammatory responses come from the mesothelial cells. Acetylcholine, a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other cells, aids the mesothelial ones.

O’Connor hopes drinking baking soda can one day produce positive results for people with other forms of autoimmune diseases.

For now, the research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, helps combat inflammation. The scientist hopes this is just the beginning. Further research and additional trials may one day result to more bold discoveries which will make a big impact in the medical field.

So the next time you see sodium bicarbonate on the supermarket shelf, think of all the good that it can do.