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  1. There are ongoing research efforts directed at addressing strength limitations of compressed earth blocks (CEB) that inhibit their deployment for structural applications, particularly in areas where masonry systems are regularly subjected to lateral loads from high winds. In this paper, the authors focus specifically on the extent to which polypropylene (PP) fibers can be used to enhance the flexural performance of CEB. Cementitious matrices used for CEB production exhibit low tensile and flexural strength (brittle) properties. This work investigates plain (unreinforced) and fiber-reinforced specimens (short flexural beams) with fiber mass content of 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, and 1.0% and ordinary Portland cement (OPC) content of 8%. The influence of the inclusion of fiber was based on tests conducted using the Standard Test Method for Flexural Performance of Fiber-Reinforced Concrete (ASTM C1609). Material properties that were quantified included first-peak strength, peak strength, equivalent flexural strength, residual strength, and flexural toughness. There was an observed improvement in the performance of the soil-fiber matrixes based on these results of these tests. It was also observed that when the fiber content exceeded 0.6% and above, specimens exhibited a deflection- hardening behavior; an indication of improvement in ductility. An equivalent flexural strength predictive model is proposed. 
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  2. Abstract

    The majority (85%) of nonsyndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (nsCL/P) cases occur sporadically, suggesting a role for de novo mutations (DNMs) in the etiology of nsCL/P. To identify high impact protein-altering DNMs that contribute to the risk of nsCL/P, we conducted whole-genome sequencing (WGS) analyses in 130 African case-parent trios (affected probands and unaffected parents). We identified 162 high confidence protein-altering DNMs some of which are based on available evidence, contribute to the risk of nsCL/P. These include novel protein-truncating DNMs in theACTL6A, ARHGAP10, MINK1, TMEM5andTTNgenes; as well as missense variants inACAN, DHRS3, DLX6, EPHB2, FKBP10, KMT2D, RECQL4, SEMA3C, SEMA4D, SHH, TP63,andTULP4. Many of these protein-altering DNMs were predicted to be pathogenic. Analysis using mouse transcriptomics data showed that some of these genes are expressed during the development of primary and secondary palate. Gene-set enrichment analysis of the protein-altering DNMs identified palatal development and neural crest migration among the few processes that were significantly enriched. These processes are directly involved in the etiopathogenesis of clefting. The analysis of the coding sequence in the WGS data provides more evidence of the opportunity for novel findings in the African genome.

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