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Archive for the ‘Male Genetics’ Category

Male diet affects female fitness and sperm competition in human- and bat-associated lineages of the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius | Scientific…

Male diet affects female fitness and sperm competition in human- and bat-associated lineages of the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius | Scientific Reports

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Male diet affects female fitness and sperm competition in human- and bat-associated lineages of the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius | Scientific...

One Of The Geeks From BATG Had A Post Show Glow Up & Damn, I Could Cut Steak With That Jaw – Pedestrian TV

On last nights episode of Beauty & The Geek,they went on a makeover frenzy, giving four geeks incredible glow ups. But did you know there was another geek who is just as hot, yet he never had a makeover?

Yes, Jackson Palmer, is an undercover hottie who could honestly be a Calvin Klein model. The geek has been posting some fire pics on his Insta post-show and OOFT.

Palmers beauty on the show was Jessica Antoniou, who made a TikTok about how she actuallyhad the hot geek this season.

Remember this guy?

Well this is what he actually looks like.

The TikTok has over 1.5 million views and isnt even the first time the Beauty & The Geek star has gone viral. Antoniou has made a number of TikToks about her BATG journey, including ones made within the mansion (or apartment) they were staying in.

Just kidding already knew jackson was a qt #beautyandthegeek#batg#jessickbish#foryoupage#makeover

Know Yourself Drake

Many of the comments asked if the pair were still together. However, Antoniou hasnt been able to reveal anything and thats likely because Beauty & The Geek is still airing and shes under a contract.

But *fingers crossed* they still are, because they are cute AF.

Theyre not the only couple either where real love looks like a possibility. George and Josie (who are still on the show) seem to really be obsessed with each other and I am so here for it.

Kiran and Bryanna are my other favourite couple, who also genuinely seem smitten with one another. They also played coy when asked about their relationship, which only makes it seem more likely that they are together IRL.

No comment, both Bryanna and Kiran told PEDESTRIAN.TV when asked if they were still together last week.

Inject Beauty & The Geek into my veins. I am truly obsessed.

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One Of The Geeks From BATG Had A Post Show Glow Up & Damn, I Could Cut Steak With That Jaw - Pedestrian TV

Matt Damon Is Copping A Pasting After Revealing He Used The Homophobic F Word Until Recently – Pedestrian TV

Matt Damon is copping mass backlash for revealing in an interview that fa**ot (a homophobic slur) was part of his vocabulary up until months ago when his daughter pointed out that its a fucked-up thing to say.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he recounted dropping the word in conversation while at the table with his family.

The word that my daughter calls the f-slur for a homosexual was commonly used when I was a kid, with a different application, he toldThe Times.

I made a joke, months ago, and got a treatise from my daughter. She left the table. I said, Come on, thats a joke! I say it in the movieStuck on You!, Matt Damon added, referencing the 2003 film in which he plays a conjoined twin with Greg Kinnear.

She went to her room and wrote a very long, beautiful treatise on how that word is dangerous. I said, I retire the f-slur! I understood.

After the interview did the rounds online, folks on Twitter began calling him out for thinking it was okay to use it as of 2021. Come on, man..

Matt Damon actor has three daughters Isabella, 15, Gia, 12, and Stella, 10, with his wife of 16 years, Luciana Barroso.

It comes shortly after rapper DaBaby was called out for going on a gross homophobic rant at a recent performance.

According to avideo posted by TMZ, DaBaby encouraged the audience to hold up their phones, but only if they didnt show up today with HIV/AIDS or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that will make you die in two to three weeks, among other derogatory remarks about HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ people.

Following the backlash, DaBaby tried to defend the comments he made at the show via Instagram Live, but he dug himself an even deeper hole by making further offensive statements.

He denied that the rant was homophobic, but rather a call to action. He also said that his gay fans dont got fucking AIDS because they arent nasty or junkies.

Several stars have slammed his actions, including Dua Lipa and Madonna, and he has been subsequently dropped from Lollapalooza, Apple Music and Boohoo (to name a few).

Wonder if Matt Damon will cop similar repercussions

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Matt Damon Is Copping A Pasting After Revealing He Used The Homophobic F Word Until Recently - Pedestrian TV

Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development: a birds’ eye perspective – BioNews

5 July 2021

It is becoming clear that our gene functions are influenced by a variety of epigeneticfactors throughout our lives and even before we are conceived. Environmental context may affect gene expression and which genes are 'activated' or not in children conceived via IVFmay be influenced by the dietary and lifestyle habits of an embryo's parents or grandparents, as well as by the culture medium in which eggs and embryos are kept in vitro. These findings have implications for the way we think about fertility, assisted reproduction, and genetic identity.

Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development is a multidisciplinary project that spans disciplinary boundaries in order to better understand how scientists, clinicians, patients, and society should respond to these challenges. The project is funded by the University of Oslo Life Sciences, as part of its convergence environments initiative which has seeninterdisciplinary research groups formed to address major health and environmental challenges faced. The project started in 2017, and is now drawing towards its close. Here, three of our project members explain their work within the project.

Trine Skuland is a developmental biologist who works on epigenetic regulation of early embryo development.

When an egg and a sperm unite to form a zygote, numerous events need to be coordinated in order to achieve successful development. Out of the ~30,000 human genes, the right selection has to be switched on/off at the appropriate time point. No wonder these events are error-prone!

Upon fertilisation, extensive reprogramming happens in order to reset the epigenetic marks of the egg and the sperm DNA, and to set up a new pattern that is compatible with further embryo development. Epigenetic marks are chemical groups that are attached either to the DNA itself or to the proteins the DNA wraps around inside the cell nucleus. The pattern of these epigenetic marks will decide whether genes are activated or silenced.

When an embryo reaches the eight-cell stage, one of the most critical events takes place. This is when the first major set of genes is activated. My team is currently studying one specific epigenetic mark that we think is important for the embryonic genome activation and we hope our research will contribute in further characterisation of epigenetic factors involved in this crucial part of embryo development.

Our aim is to find another piece of the big genome activation puzzle in order to get a more complete picture of what is necessary for normal embryo development. This is as more than half of the embryos created during assisted reproduction develop abnormally and have to be discarded. Our ultimate goal is giving infertile people higher quality embryos to increase their chances of becoming parents.

Birgit Kvernflaten is a medical anthropologist who looks at prospective parents' experiences of assisted reproductive technologies.

My role in the project is to explore prospective parents' experiences and perspectives of practices and treatments used in assisted reproduction.It starts from the idea that their experiences do not take place in a vacuum, but are shaped within a particular socio-cultural and political context. The project further aims to explore and understand prospective parents' experiences and perceptions of the status of the embryo, embryo donation, research, and selection, in light of increased epigenetic knowledge.

This project has highlighted how prospective parents' experiences of infertility treatment are related to and shaped by social and cultural discourses on Norwegian family life.

In Norway, biological or genetic ties are considered central to people's understanding of kinship and identity, shaping couples' negotiations about gamete donation, family, relationships, and responsibilities. Yet people's understanding of genes is also ambiguous. As for the concept of epigenetics; it seems it has not yet entered the public's imagination.

Although the role of environmental factors in shaping who we are is acknowledged in Norwegian society, couples tend to view genetics in a rather deterministic way, in that they believe it shapes both looks, personality, and risk of disease. While difficult to truly grasp, the role of genetics is central to people's ideas about reproduction and parenthood. New epigenetic knowledge raises questions about the interface between nature and nurture, as well as opening up discussion related to the role mothers and their bodies play in determining the health of future offspring.

Joona Rsnenis a bioethicist who works on the philosophical and ethical implications of epigenetics.

Epigenetics raises challenging ethical issues throughout the human life cycle. Epigenetic transmission from one generation to the next may raise questions of moral responsibility of parents and grandparents. Epigenetics plays an important role in a range of chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Our lifestyle habits during pregnancy and even before, may influence whether our future children will live healthy lives or suffer from lifelong illness.

It is commonly known that we should eat healthily for our own sake, but these developments in our understanding of epigenetic could imply that we should eat healthily for the sake of our future children as well. Does this demand too much of future parents?

Epigenetics seems to put prospective parents under pressure since they would be partly responsible for their future child's health even before the child is conceived. Pregnant women are often advised to abstain from alcohol and tobacco, but maybe it is worth reminding them to eat healthily as well and this advice applies not only to future mothers, but to prospective fathers too, since epigenetic inheritance occurs through the male germline as well.


The interplay between science, anthropology, and philosophy in the context of epigenetics is complex.Skuland notes that a key aim for scientists working to unravel the epigenetic mechanisms involved in early embryo development, is to fulfil the needs of IVF patients to have their 'own' child. Dr Kvernflaten shows how genetics is central to patients' ideas about kinship and identity, yet epigenetics is still something unfamiliar to most prospective parents. Rsnen's example suggests that if parents did take on board some of the moral implications of epigenetics, they might find that the scope of their responsibility for future offspring is dramatically expanded.

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Epigenetics and bioethics of human embryonic development: a birds' eye perspective - BioNews

Aryans or HarappansWho drove the creation of caste system? DNA holds a clue – ThePrint

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Harappan seals, pottery, figurines and animal bones reveal many real and mythical animalsdog, tiger, birds, wild ass, unicorn, humped bull, elephant, rhinoceros, water buffalo, short-horned humpless bull, goat, antelope, crocodile and harebut not horse, one-humped camel or donkey. The horse appears in the subcontinent after the collapse of the Harappan Civilization. It likely arrived in numbers along with the Aryans from Central Asia, a horse-riding nomadicpastoralist people with perhaps some knowledge of crops. What also accompanied them was their language and religion: proto-Sanskrit, proto-Vedas and Vedic godsmostly male gods, such as Indra, Agni, Mitra, Varuna, Rudra and Surya, and a few female gods, such as Usha and Prithvi. They used iron, revered fire and the cow (though they also slaughtered it and ate beef), and preferred cremating the dead. By the time these Aryan herders entered the subcontinentin the middle centuries of the second millennium BCEurban Harappans had largely dissolved into rural life.

Notably, the Vedic lore of the Aryans mentions defensive armour, weapons, chariots and warfare against dark-skinned foes named Dasas. But the Dasas were not Harappans, who no longer lived in fortified cities by the time the Aryans reached the Indus Valley. Based on the styles of Dasa forts described in the Rig Veda, Parpola and others have argued that the Dasas were proto-Sakas, a pastoralist group of the Central Asian steppes, and the major fights between the Aryans and the Dasas probably took place not in the Indus Valley but in the Indo-Iranian borderlands, en route to the Indus Valley. Nor does the description of the Saraswati River in the Rig Veda fit the Ghaggar-Hakra River that dried up c. 2000 BCE, and instead maps on to the river called Haraxvaiti (in Avestan) or Harahuvati (in Old Persian), which is very likely the Arghandab River, or less likely the Helmand River, both in modern Afghanistan.

After the arrival of the Aryans to the Indus Valley, the locals (rural descendants of the Harappans) probably saw them as an aggressive bunch and their encounters were likely not all peaceful. One indicator of this is the very skewed genetic footprint of the Aryan male in later populations, despite the fact that, like all migrating groups, they had come with entire families. According to a scientific study in 2017, Genetic influx from Central Asia in the Bronze Age was strongly male-driven, consistent with the patriarchal, patrilocal and patrilineal social structure attributed to the inferred pastoralist early Indo-European society. Further, while archaeologists havent found any telltale signs of war or invasion, its reasonable to expect that the locals would have initially resisted the imposition of the Aryan language, religion and culture, since thats how such encounters usually play out.

Also read: Indias native horses disappeared by 8000 BC. But Rig Veda mentions them more than the cow

The Aryans also brought with them a form of social hierarchy with priests at the topa proto-varna system without endogamy (i.e., marrying only within a specific social group). They had no linguistic script and the need for it was reduced due to the lack of an urban civilization. The priests may also have impeded the rise of a script that might have democratized their oral chants and deflated their esoteric powers. Notably, such instincts seem alien to the Harappan ethos, given the ubiquity of the artefacts with their script on them. For instance, their script often appears as graffiti-like scribbles on stone blocks in non-elite parts of Dholavira, and as messages stamped on pottery items used by ordinary people (possibly brand or ownership details?).

After a millennium of mixing and migration in the subcontinent, numerous sites arose in the Gangetic Plain, whose settlers had learnt to fire a more durable and sophisticated series of ceramics known as painted gray ware (PGW), writes historian Sudipta Sen. They evolved social formations in which clans, lineages, and tribes began to yield to new ruling councils and kings. From this came new urban life, hybrid cultures, languages, pantheons and religio-spiritual ideas that we now associate with mid-first millennium BCE India. These developments had strong contributions from both the Aryan and the Harappan substrates. New political and social conflicts en route also seem to have inspired many of the stories in the great epic Mahabharata.

Could the Harappan social hierarchy have included endogamy based on occupation, i.e., a proto-caste system? Did a hereditary group of manual scavengers clean the sullage jars of Dholavira homes? Current archaeology and genetics consider this unlikely (more ancient DNA analysis of Harappans may provide conclusive evidence). Scientists trace the earliest instances of endogamy to the first millennium BCE, probably more than a millennium after the Aryan migration into the subcontinent; mixing of populations was the norm until then. Thereafter, mixing coexisted with a few groups practicing endogamy, which eventually led to a more widely endogamous caste system.

But can we say which cultural substratethe Aryan or the Harappandrove the creation of the caste system? A strong clue comes from the fact that Aryan genes register far more strongly in the higher castes, who are also lighter skinned on average. Further, DNA evidence has shown that endogamy first appeared and became the norm among upper castes and Indo-European speakers. Indeed, as many scholars have long argued, the roots of the Indian caste system almost certainly trace back to the Aryan substrate.

Also read: Was Harappa wet or arid? Rhinos hold a clue

Further, patriarchal practices like Sati, too, appear to be a legacy of the Aryan substrate. Satis earliest noted occurrence in India dates to the fourth century BCE, as recorded by two first-century-BCE writers, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. Though now mostly associated with India, sati also occurred back then in the Near East and Europe, among descendants of earlier migrants of the root proto-Indo-European culture, the Yamnayaalso the parent culture of the Indo-Aryans. In the fifth century BCE, Greek historian Herodotus wrote about a Thracian tribe where the most beloved wife of a dead husbanddeemed so by family and friends, and intended to be a coveted honourwas sacrificed and buried with him.

A century later, the Thracian wife of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was burned on her husbands funeral pyre, as per the custom of her people. In the first century CE, Roman historian Tacitus observed that in a Germanic tribe (descended from the Yamnaya), the wife refused to survive her husband, but killed herself in order to be burnt on the same funeral pyre as him. He noted that many other tribes disliked widow remarriage. In the tenth century CE, Arab historian Al Masudi noted sati among Slavic and Russian tribes (also descended from the Yamnaya) in the Caucasus region and in India. Such funerary customs have a distinctly patriarchal script. Theyre qualitatively different from those of ancient Egyptians, where servants were sometimes sacrificed and buried with an important man. Sati was likely alien to the Harappans, but in the mixed culture that arose later, it gained a foothold among the warrior elites and became part of the Indo- Aryan cultural legacy in the subcontinent.

In the last decades of the twentieth century, however, cultural chauvinism reared its ugly head in the scholarship of Indian prehistory. A host of Hindu nationalists and motivated scholars (almost entirely brown or white Hindu men) began championing an alternative view of the Aryan migration, arguing that there was no Aryan migration at all! That the Aryans and the Harappans were one people, both fully indigenous. They claimed that the proto-Indo-European language family, of which Sanskrit is a part, was created by these indigenous folks and taken to the westthe Out of India Theory (OIT). This also implied that the Harappans spoke proto-Sanskrit and codified it in their as-yet-undeciphered script, that they composed the Rig Veda, which describes their own fortified cities like Dholavira. Such bogus scholarship, as is now amply clear, has fed hordes of middlebrow Hindutva ideologues since the 1980s. Armed with little knowledge and misplaced pride, well-heeled urban Hindus began to confidently assert that the Aryan Migration Theory was discredited. Countless websites carry this fake news.

In fact, the controversy about Aryan migration was never an honest disagreement among scholars. Parpola, for instance, has long considered it impossible that the Vedic Aryans were indigenous to South Asia. The massive weight of evidence from linguistics, philology, and archaeologythough it had gaps that its rivals tried to exploit has long favoured whats now being proven or refined by population archaeogenetics, a field whose impact on ancient history may end up being as significant as radiocarbon dating (1949).

The OIT was motivated by bad politics rather than by good scholarship.

This excerpt from Indians: A Brief History Of A Civilization by Namit Arora has been published with permission from Penguin Random House India.

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Aryans or HarappansWho drove the creation of caste system? DNA holds a clue - ThePrint

Dudley Zoo staff are part of global effort to protect endangered black lemurs – Dudley News

CONSERVATIONISTS at Dudley Zoo and Castle are playing a major role in helping to secure the future of endangered black lemurs.

Senior figures at the Castle Hill attraction have been managing the European Endangered Species Programme for black lemurs for almost two decades, first overseen by zoo director Derek Grove before curator Richard Brown took over the reins in 2015.

But Richard is now not just the co-ordinator of the entire European captive population, but hes also overseeing the International Studbook and studying the genetic make-up of captive black lemurs as far afield as America and Japan.

He said: Its really exciting to have a bigger gene pool of the captive black lemur population to work with.

Im now overseeing 350 black lemurs in more than 75 collections worldwide, studying their genetics and making recommendations about which of these lemurs are suitable for exchanges or breeding.

Zoo registrar Nicola Wright has also been helping with the Studbook and collates details of all births, deaths and transfers within collections as well as identifying surplus animals.

Richard added: Its crucial for the survival of the species that we keep the gene pool viable, so we have to get the genetics right when matching pairs together.

We have to identify who is genetically closely related, to avoid in-breeding and prevent any defects.

Its a really interesting task and hopefully the new role may also open up the potential for us here at DZC working with Japanese zoos in the future.

Lemurs can live up to 30 years in captivity and, on average, they make between one and two moves throughout their lifetime.

The zoo has a breeding pair, Florence and Bryan, and their three-year-old offspring, Jimmy.

Ten-year-old Florence moved to Dudley in 2016 from Bioparc Fuengirola in Spain, while, Bryan, aged 15, relocated to the Midlands from Luxembourg in 2009 after originally being born in France.

The pairs first offspring, daughter Kimmy, who was born at DZC in 2017 and was the zoos first black lemur birth in a decade, was moved to Planckendael Zoo in Belgium in 2019 after Richard successfully matched her to a male there.

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Simple Ways to Never Age, According to Experts | Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That

Living to be 100 used to be a novelty, so much so that Willard Scott, the Today Show weatherman, would announce your name on air in awe (Al Roker still does). Yet, these days it's not so uncommon to live that long. We're all living longer than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently pegs 78 years of age as the average life expectancy. That's not too shabby considering a century ago people lived to be around 39 (due to an influenza outbreak).

But what if we could push it 25 years more?

Worldwide, there are nearly 500,000 people who have made, or surpassed, the 100-mark, and this number is projected to grow to 3.7 million by 2050. Here, Eat This, Not That! Health rounds-up the latest research that'll not only help you to live to be triple digits, but ensure you're happy doing so. Read onand to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 19 Ways You're Ruining Your Body, Say Health Experts.

Don't down a bottle of Jgermeister in hopes of a long life ahead. But a glass of red wine, by all means. "Our research shows that light-to-moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease," says Bo Xi, MD, associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in China and the lead author of a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, "while heavy drinking can lead to death. A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental."

The Rx: Red wine contains antioxidants, can lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of stroke and increases bone density. Enjoy one to two glasses a day if you wish.

Eating meat less than once a week may increase longevity by 3.6 years, according to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Another 22-year study out of Finland found increased mortality and disease among individuals with higher animal protein intakes.

The Rx: If you must eat meat, opt for leaner proteins (chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef) and keep off the bacon and sausages since diets heavy in processed meats are linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease. Otherwise, explore the exciting new world of plant-based nutrition, with a product like Beyond Meat, made with pea protein.

Be mindful of your surroundings, and what you're breathing in. Everything from Benzene (found in gasoline), smoke, and other toxins can lead to cell degeneration and increase mortality rates, studies show.

The Rx: Don't miss this essential list of 100 Ways Your Home Could be Making You Sick.

Olive oil, veggies, fruits, nuts, seafood and a moderate amount of wine and cheesewe've all heard the Mediterranean diet is the secret to a longer life. In fact, numerous studies have linked the diet to improving brain health and function, lower risk of cancer and other diseases.

The Rx: Now it's time you tried it. Eat almonds, hummus, wild salmon, garlic, lemon, quinoa, cauliflower, chia seeds and olives frequently. Eat eggs, Skyr, and chicken moderately. And eat red meat rarely. Avoid entirely the packaged, processed, store-bought items that are loaded with additives.

RELATED: 9 Everyday Habits That Might Lead to Dementia, Say Experts

Gene variants found in centenarians have been linked to their longer lives. A healthy lifestyle can help people live into old age, but these genes help maintain basic maintenance and function of the body's cells in individuals of advanced age, in their 80s and beyond.

The Rx: You can't outrun genetics but you can learn about yours. Consider taking a DNA test, in which you'll learn about your proclivity to certain diseases.

Japan is doing something right! It currently holds the title of longest life span, according to the World Health Organization. This may have something to do with the size of their plates. When it comes to diet, the Japanese tend to eat smaller portionsspecifically the size of a salad plateand don't overstuff themselves. Centenarians studied in Okinawa stop eating when they are 80 percent full. They also tend to live seven years longer than Americans, according to a study, and have fewer cases of heart disease and cancer.

The Rx: Experiment with the 80% rule. Or at the very least, don't keep eating when you feel full.

Don't work so hard; your life depends on it. A Finnish study followed male businessman born between 1919 and 1934, and found that those who didn't sleep enough, were overworked, and didn't take enough time off (i.e. vacation) were 37 percent more likely to die between the years of 1974 and 2004. By 2015, some of the oldest participants, who always took their vacay, reached 81 to 96 years of age.

The Rx: Our current culture rewards non-stop go-and-do work. But at what cost? If you have vacation days, use them to unplug, and be firm with your boss if you must. He'll value your work more if you're alive than dead.

RELATED: The #1 Reason You Could Get Cancer, According to Science

Each hour you binge Netflix, Hulu, HBOthe list goes onafter the age of 25 may cut your life by 22 minutes, according to research out of the University of Queensland, Australia. Those who spent an average of six hours in front of the tube per day were also likely to die five years earlier than those that didn't watch TV at all.

The Rx: There are other reasons to stop clicking "next episode." They can be addictive and eat up your time. (Robert De Niro is currently suing an ex-employee because he watched 55 episodes of Friends in a row.) Enjoy your One Day at a Timeone episode at a time.

A study out of the University of Naples found that too little or too much sleepsleeping less or more than six to eight hours on averageis linked to a 30 percent higher chance of premature death.

The Rx: Seven to eight hours of shuteye is the sweet spot.

RELATED: This Supplement Can Raise Your Heart Attack Risk, Experts Say

Packed with vitamin C and other nutrients, studies have found mustards, also known as Brassicaceae, will keep you around longer, according to researchers.

The Rx: Enojy cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radishes, watercress, Brussels sprouts and a few spices like horseradish, wasabi and, yes, white, Indian and black mustard.

Hey, none of us are getting out of this alive, but that's no reason to keep that sour mug. Researchers examined smile intensity among photos of baseball players from the 1950s. Of the players who had died in the years 2006 to 2009, those who were not smiling in those photos lived an average of 72.9 years, while the big smilers lived nearly 80 years. They concluded that there's a clear link between smiling intensity and longevity.

The Rx: Men, stop telling women to smile. It's demeaning and implies they're subservient. However, given the impact on our health (mental and otherwise), we could all stand to turn that frown upside down.

Old dogs can't learn new tricks but you can. Education, coupled with a healthy weight, leads to a longer life expectancy, revealed a study out of the University of Edinburgh, with almost a year added to your life for each year spent studying beyond school.

The Rx: Pull a Dangerfield and go back to schooleven if it's just an herbalism course, knitting class or continuing ed program.

RELATED: I'm A Doctor And Warn You Never Take This Supplement

Avoid certain jobs, some of the deadliest out there, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, if you want to stick around longer. On the flip side, find a job you love. You'll be happier, longer, which can impact you positively long-term.

The Rx: Truck driver, farmers and construction laborers are among the most dangerous, mainly owing to vehicular accidents.

Country life is serene, but the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging found that living in a major city can also support longer life spans because of stronger health systems, and more access to learning, arts, culture, and other healthy stimulants.

The Rx: Eat This, Not That! Health is based in New York City and our editors can attest living here indeed makes you feel young, although struggling to afford it might age you. Weigh the fantasy versus reality before any leaps.

Good relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, a Harvard study revealed. Another study in Personal Relationships looked at 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries with a strong link to better health in older age among those with strong friend and family connections.

The Rx: Send a "friend request" to someone you'd like to be closer toand meet them in person, not just online.

Compared with persons with a normal body mass index (18.5 to 25), those who are underweight, overweight, and obese have an increased risk of death over a 30-year period. Being too underweight, or at the extreme, obese, can impact health significantly over time, show studies.

The Rx: A book like Zero Belly Diet can help you cut dairy, reduce bloat, stay plant-based and be leaner for life.

Stay away from men. That's what centenarian Jessie Gallan, at one time Scotland's oldest woman, credited for her longevity. "They're more trouble than they're worth," she said in an interview before her death in 2015. Granted, Gallan was a tough woman without or without a man. She started working at the age of 13 and spent her 109 years staying fit and having good people in her life but never walked down the aisle.

The Rx: There's no definitive research supporting a link between marriage and longevity one way or the other, although one study found that "current marriage is associated with longer survival. Among the not married categories, having never been married was the strongest predictor of premature mortality." Our advice: Marry the person you want to spend your life with, and give one another room to grow.

If you want to live longer, make sure you and your spouse are happy. A study published by the Association for Psychological Science found that a happy marriage can lead to a longer life.

The Rx: A good marriage is linked to a more active life and healthier habits, overall. How's your relationship?

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Obesity, According to Science

As stressful as parenthood gets at times, having kids can actually keep you around longer since it encourages a healthier lifestyleyou're more likely to give up smoking and stay active, shows one study.

The Rx: Don't have children just to live longer. But if you do have or want kids, remember that your habits become theirs. Set the example.

Keep a good pace. Brisk walking will keep your heart healthy and add some years to your life, according to a recent Mayo Clinic study. Researchers reported that women who walked more quickly had a life span of about 87 years compared to 72 years for women who walked slowly. Meanwhile, men who walked quickly had a life span of about 86 years compared to 65 years for men who walked more slowly.

The Rx: "Walking is man's best medicine," said Hippocrates. Get steppin'.

A handful of nuts a day may keep the doctor away, according to Harvard University research, which found that people who crunch some nuts daily lived 20 percent longer than those who didn't.

The Rx: Our favorite is almonds. Besides being an easy go-to snack that you can whip out of your bag during a good ol' 9-5 shift, almonds are also chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals, with vitamin E and biotin being the most predominant. Those nutrients enable your skin to remain smooth and gives your lush hair and strong nails the nutrition they need to flourish.

Don't stopever! The moment you become stagnant, things may go downhill. Stay active. A 2016 study found that elderly people who exercised for just 15 minutes a day, at an intensity level of a brisk walk, had a 22 percent lower risk of early death compared to people who don't exercise.

The Rx: "For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity," reports the Mayo Clinic.

To quote Dr. Nelly of Nellyville: It's getting hot in here. Frequent spicy food consumption is linked to a longer life. Those who eat spicy foods nearly every day have a 14 percent chance of living longer, according to a Harvard study. Capsaicin and other compounds in chili peppers have been linked to fighting cancer, obesity, and more.

The Rx: Sprinkle some cayenne pepper into your eggs every morning, for a one-two punch of protein and spice.

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.

Researchers at the Carleton University in Canada say that having a sense of purpose may add more years to your life, because of positive relations and emotions and overall well-being.

The Rx: Start small. Rather than ask yourself, "Why am I here? What is my place in the Universe" ask yourself, "What can I do today that will make me feel like I've enriched my life, or the lives of others?"

Yoga can help improve digestion, calm the nervous system, lower blood sugar, and so many other tangible benefits. It's no wonder researchers say it will help increase your overall life span.

The Rx: Get your chaturanga on! There's no doubt a yoga studio near you, with teachers who will welcome first-timers. For long-timers, consider a retreat.

Taking care of your teeth and gums isn't just about preventing cavities or bad breath. The mouth is the gateway to the body's overall health. Not flossing allows plaque to build up, which then turns into tartar that can eventually irritate the gums, which can lead to various infections and disease over time. Researchers followed more than 5,400 people for 18 years and found that those who did not brush their teeth daily had a 22 to 65 percent greater risk of dementia than those who brushed three times a day.

The Rx: The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day. Use fluoride toothpaste, and brush for two minutes.

Coffee is packed with tons of healthy compounds, including antioxidants, which can protect the body against cellular damage that can lead to disease, studies show.

The Rx: Drinking four to five cups daily is also associated with a reduced risk of early death.

This one is pretty self explanatory. An active lifestyle will keep you around longer. Exercising at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes can add on 3.4 years to your life, according to the National Institute of Health.

The Rx: Try one of these 25 Easy Exercises That Boost Your Health Fast. They really work.

Helping others can only make you feel good, and it helps boost overall mental health throughout time, which impacts the body's immunity to fight disease, according to a study published in BMC Public Health.

The Rx: Animal rescue shelters, national parks, Habitat for Humanity, local libraries, political campaigns and the YMCA are a few places that rarely say no to help.

RELATED: Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It

Studies show sex releases endorphins and hormones in the body, which can help combat feelings of loneliness and depression, keep you physically active, reduce stress relieving, and boost mental wellness.

The Rx: Take this advice seriously. Having sex is one of theSimplest Ways to Avoid a Heart Attack, Say Doctors.

Are there stairs nearby? Good. Use them. The European Society of Cardiology released a study showing how brisk movement, particularly being able to climb three flights quickly, can reduce your risk of early death from cardiovascular and oncologic, and other diseases.

The Rx: Skip the elevators and escalators, and track your steps with a fitness watch, if you need more motivation.

The sweet stuff won't get you far in lifeliterally. Too much sugar is linked to shorter life spans, according to one study. Sugar has even been linked to reprogramming how our genes function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 14% of the daily calories the average Ameican consumes comes from added sugars. And it shows. According to a Population Health Management publication, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes increased more than three times between 1990 and 2010. This just so happens to be the same years sugar starting becoming more prevalent in our food.

The Rx: A book like Sugar Free 3 can teach you how to identify added sugarsand how to give them up.

Get in touch with your spiritual side. People who attend religious services, or have some spiritual connection, typically experience lower levels of anxiety, depression, have lower blood pressure, and are generally in better health. An 18-year study published in PLOS One found that regular service attendance was linked to reductions in the body's stress responses, and worshippers were 55 percent less likely to die.

The Rx: You read that right: 55 percent less likely to die. Start by defining what spirituality means to you, and then see if there's a community that supports that common interest.

If you're not connected to a particular religion, you can still find your spiritual balance through meditation. Not only does it improve mental health, but meditating has been linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases, according to a study from the University of California-Davis, which found that regular meditation produces higher levels of telomerase, an enzyme that helps lengthen the telomeres in our chromosomes, which impact aging.

The Rx: Apps like Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm have taken meditating mainstream; try one. One of our favorite apps is 10% Happier, from ABC News man-turned-meditator Dan Harris.

If you know how to laugh at things, you'll live longer. A 15-year study out of Norway assessed the link between a sense of humor and mortality rates among 53,556 men and women and found that women who had a good sense of humor lived longer, despite illnesses, including cardiovascular disease; cheerful men faired just as well with laughter protecting them from infection.

The Rx: We've been obsessed with the funniest lines from HBO's Successionand aren't even sure it's a comedy!

RELATED: Everyday Habits That Make You Look Older, According to Science

Want to live to 85 or longer? Optimistic thinking can add years on to your life, say researchers at Boston University School of Medicine. Optimistic people can better regulate emotions so we can bounce back from stressors and difficulties more effectively.

The Rx: Technically, the glass is always half full. The other half is air.

Creativity keeps the brain healthy and may decrease mortality rates. Researchers agree. Creative people just tend to live longer.

The Rx: Remember this, if something's blocking you: You don't have to be "creative" to create.

Be good to yourself. Self compassion goes a long way, say researchers. It's associated with better moods, can improve body image, and is linked to happiness, optimism, wisdom, personal initiative, and more. Overall, it improves our entire mental health, which keeps our body more resilient to stress and illnesses.

The Rx: Did we mention we love that thing you said today? So smart! So funny! So wise.

People who eat fiber-rich foods, including some good 'ole oatmeal or porridge, cut their risk of dying from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases by 24 to 56 percent in men and by 34 percent to 59 percent in women, shows one study.

The Rx: Buy "regular" oatmeal and add berries for sweetness. Anything else may be loaded with dangerous added sugars.

Owning a dog is linked to a longer life, according to researchers out of Uppsala University in Sweden, who reviewed national registry records of 3.4. million men and women, ages 40 to 80.

If you're a cat person, you'll get some extra years from kitties as well. A study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute found that people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.

The Rx: We mentioned volunteering at the ASPCA. If you feel truly capable of caring for a pet, discuss taking one home. We like these questions from Nylabone:

Get back to basics with food. Those who incorporate more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and fish and limiting too much sodium, unhealthy fats, excess red meat, sugar, and processed foods, improved their overall health and life expectancy.

The Rx: For the web's #1 nutrition resource, and to make the right food choice every time, head to Eat This, Not That!

Does longevity run in your family? Dig deeper into your family history, including lifestyle habits, illnesses, deaths, and beyond. It may help us tap into how long we ultimately have here.

The Rx: Put together a family treewith dates of birth, death, and causes.

Tea contains flavonoids, a compound that works to boost health. One study found that 88 percent of women were 40 percent more likely to live longer because they drank two cups of tea per day.

The Rx: Go green. The most potent catechin in green tea is EGCG, the powerhouse compound that's responsible for most of green tea's weight loss properties. In addition to revving your metabolism and boosting the breakdown of fat, EGCG can also block the formation of new fat cells.

Read more:
Simple Ways to Never Age, According to Experts | Eat This Not That - Eat This, Not That

Talazoparib Most Likely to Inhibit Response in Men With Heavily Pretreated mCRPC – Cancer Network

Patients with germline and/or homozygous tumor DNA damage response (tDDR) alterations among male patients with heavily pretreated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) were most likely to respond to treatment with the PARP inhibitor talazoparib (Talzenna), according to data from a retrospective ad hoc exploratory subgroup analysis presented during the 2021 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Virtual Annual Meeting.1

The open-label, international phase 2 TALAPRO-1 trial (NCT03148795) examined single-agent oral talazoparib at 1 mg daily in patients with mCRPC previously treated with taxane-based chemotherapy, as well as abiraterone acetate (Zytiga)/prednisone), enzalutamide (Xtandi), or both hormonal agents. All patients had at least 1 homologous recombination repair (HRR) gene alteration from a panel of 11 genes (HRR11) likely to sensitize their tumor to PARP inhibition: ATM,ATR,BRCA1, BRCA2,CHEK2,FANCA,MLH1,MRE11A,NBN,PALB2,RAD51C.

The data cutoff was September 4, 2020, and the primary end point was objective response rate (ORR) by blinded independent central review (BICR). The study met its primary end point as the final analysis showed that among 104 patients in the efficacy population, the ORR by BICR was 29.8% (n = 31).

The strongest antitumor effect was observed in patients with BRCA alterations, with a confirmed ORR of 45.9% and a median radiographic progression-free survivalof 11.2 months, said Johann de Bono, MB, ChB, FRCP, MSc, PhD, FMedSci, head of drug development at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Talazoparib also induced objective responses in patients with non-BRCA HRR gene alterations, including PALB2 and ATM alterations.

Both the antitumor activity and tolerability was promising [with talazoparib] for this heavily pretreated population of mCRPC patients, said de Bono.

Regarding the ad hoc analyses presented during the AACR meeting, de Bono said, We explored the importance of germline versus somatic origin and the zygosity of these DNA repair defects [in association with] response.

De Bono explained, Characterization of alteration origin was based on a comparison of DNA sequences from matched tumor and saliva samples. FoundationOne was used to test tumor tissue and Ambry Genetics CustomNext-Cancerpanel was used to test saliva. The somatic-germline-zygosity (SGZ) computational algorithm established by Sun et al2 was used to predict zygosity.

Both the characterization of origin and zygosity prediction were limited to short variants. The analysis was focused on the HRR-altered measurable disease population, defined as patients who had measurable soft-tissue disease at screening and a DNA-repair gene defect presumed to directly or indirectly sensitize [the tumor] to PARP inhibition as assessed in the HRR11 core gene panel, and had received at least 1 dose of talazoparib, said de Bono.

The assessment of tumor alterations by origin showed that 25 were germline, 43 were somatic, and 33 were unknown or not evaluable.

BRCA2 and ATM were the most commonly altered genes. The BRCA2 alterations were evenly split between germline and somatic, at 13 versus 19, respectively. In contrast, the ATM alterations tended to be somatic in origin, said de Bono.

Among 25 patients with germline alterations, the ORR was 28% (n = 7), comprising 1 CR and 6 PRs. An additional 10 patients had stable disease (SD), 6 patients had progressive disease (PD), and 2 patients were not evaluable.

The ORR was 25.6% (n = 11) among 43 patients with somatic mutations; this included 3 CRs and 8 PRs. Another 16 patients reached SD, 9 had PD, and 5 were not evaluable. Two other patients were categorized by the investigators as non-CR/non-PD.

ORRs were similar for germline and somatic alterations, said de Bono.

In the BRCA2 subpopulation, among 13 patients with germline BRCA2 alterations, the ORR was 53.8% (n = 7), comprising 1 CR and 6 PRs. An additional 5 patients had SD and 1 patient was not evaluable.

The ORR was 36.8% (n = 7) among 19 patients with somatic BRCA2 alterations; this included 2 CRs and 5 PRs. Another 6 patients reached SD, 2 patients had non-CR/non-PD, 2 patients had PD, and 2 patients were not evaluable.

As expected, for the BRCA2-altered tumors we saw the highest ORR, independent of germline versus somatic origin, said de Bono.

The assessment of the prevalence of tumor alterations by zygosity across all HRR11 alterations found that 30 were homozygous, 30 were heterozygous, and 13 were not evaluable.

Among 30 patients with homozygous alterations, the ORR was 40% (n = 12), comprising 3 CRs and 9 PRs. An additional 9 patients had SD, 2 patients had non-CR/non-PD, 6 patients had PD, and 1 patient was not evaluable.

The ORR was 13.3% (n = 4) among the 30 patients with heterozygous alterations; this included 1 CR and 3 PRs. Another 12 patients reached SD, 10 had PD, and 4 patients were not evaluable.

The ORR was significantly higher for homozygous alterations. Interestingly, the short variants not evaluable for SGZ prediction (n = 32) exhibited an ORR (40.6%) similar to homozygous alterations, although the interpretation of these data are unclear, said de Bono.

Regarding zygosity in the BRCA2 subgroup, alterations were primarily homozygous; there were 18 homozygous and 9 heterozygous alterations. This breakdown contrasted with some of the other variants, such as CHEK2, in which the alterations were mainly heterozygous.

In the 18-patient BRCA2 homozygous group, the ORR was 50% (n = 9), comprising 2 CRs and 7 PRs. An additional 5 patients had SD, 2 had non-CR/non-PD, 1 had PD, and 1 patient was not evaluable.

Among the 9 BRCA2 patients with heterozygous alterations, the ORR was 44.4% (n = 4), comprising 1 CR and 3 PRs. Another 2 patients reached SD, 1 had PD, and 2 patients were not evaluable.

The ORR was higher for BRCA2 patients, independent of detectable zygosity. The difference in response by zygosity observed in the BRCA2 subset and the larger HRR panel does suggest a higher ORR for homozygous loss across the DNA repair genes and may reflect differences in zygosity distribution between the genes. For example, we saw 1 homozygous, 6 heterozygous, and 3 non-evaluable alterations for CHEK2, explained de Bono.

Summarizing his discussion, de Bono said, Based on this retrospective ad hoc exploratory analysis in this heavily pretreated mCRPC population, patients with diverse DDR alterations demonstrated responses to talazoparib monotherapy.

Based on analysis of short variants, tumors exhibiting homozygous DDR alterations were more likely to respond to talazoparib than those with heterozygous DDR alterations. Potential explanations include gene-specific imbalances in zygosity of alterations and/or sensitivity to talazoparib, but further investigation in a larger data set is needed, de Bono added.


1. de Bono JS, Laird AD, Mehra N, et al. TALAPRO-1 final data: Talazoparib (TALA) monotherapy in men with DNA damage response alterations (DDRalt) and metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC)exploration of DDRalt germline/somatic origin and zygosity. Presented at: 2021 AACR Virtual Annual Meeting Week 1; April 10-15, 2021. Abstract CT027

2. Sun JX, He Y, Sanford E, et al. A computational approach to distinguish somatic vs. germline origin of genomic alterations from deep sequencing of cancer specimens without a matched normal. PLoS Comput Biol. 2018;14(2):e1005965. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005965

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Talazoparib Most Likely to Inhibit Response in Men With Heavily Pretreated mCRPC - Cancer Network

Quest Diagnostics and Blueprint Genetics to Present New Insights from Genetic Testing at the 2021 Annual American College of Medical Genetics and…

SECAUCUS, N.J. and HELSINKI, Finland, April 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ --Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services, and Blueprint Genetics announced today that they will present results of 10 studies at the virtual 2021 American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) Annual Meeting, to be held April 1316, 2021. These studies demonstrate the value of a broad range of genomic sequencing and other technologies to help diagnose several inherited disorders across various medical specialties.

In January 2020, Quest Diagnostics acquired Blueprint Genetics, a leading specialty genetic testing company with deep expertise in gene variant detection using next generation sequencing (NGS), proprietary bioinformatics, and clinical interpretation. Since that time, Quest and Blueprint Genetics have broadened access to actionable insights in genetic disorders and inherited diseases for patient care and anticipatory management as well as pharmaceutical drug research and development and clinical trials, particularly in the United States.

"Genomic testing is an essential component of patient care as results can impact treatment and management on many levels. Too often, patients experience a diagnostic odyssey, spending months, years or even a lifetime searching for a diagnosis because they lack access to genomic testing insights," said Carrie Eglinton Manner, Senior Vice President, Advanced Diagnostics, Quest Diagnostics. "Quest and Blueprint Genetics are working together to bring innovative advanced diagnostics from test ordering to gene variant interpretation and clinical reporting to patient populations with unmet medical needs."

Featured studies focus on mitochondrial disease, hearing loss and skeletal dysplasias

Among the research is the study "Retrospective review of mitochondrial genome analysis in over 6600 cases using clinical grade mtDNA sequencing" (Poster: eP345), which demonstrates that including high-quality mitochondrial mtDNA analysis by next generation sequencing (NGS) in panels in multiple medical specialties increases the ability to make diagnoses for patients with mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial disorders can be difficult to diagnose, as many of the symptoms, such as vision or hearing loss, seizures or poor muscle tone, can be mistaken for other diseases. While mitochondrial disorders have no cure, patients often do better when the underlying cause of their symptoms is diagnosed and addressed early.

"It's exciting to witness first-hand how mtDNA analysis increases diagnostic yields: Greater than a 1 percent increase in diagnostic yield, on average, across all panels, and a greater than 5 percent increase in multiple panels. The NGS-based technology we developed and extensively validated is specifically optimized for the detection of large mtDNA deletions and low levels of heteroplasmy. Mitochondrial disorders need to be considered in the diagnostic workflow for patients with suspected inherited disorders to provide more molecular diagnoses for all patients, not just those with complex presentations," said Jennifer Schleit, Blueprint Genetics Laboratory Director, North America.

Molecular genetic testing is now considered a standard part of the evaluation of hearing loss in infants. However, comprehensive genetic testing in hearing loss using standard NGS methods is complicated. A comprehensive testing strategy that includes difficult-to-sequence regions is needed for the most accurate diagnosis. A study titled "Next-generation sequencing panels for hereditary hearing loss testing with approaches for difficult-to-sequence regions" (Poster: eP345) demonstrates that the inclusion of difficult-to-sequence genes, such as STRC and OTOA, contributed to more than 10 percent of the diagnostic yield.

Another study, "Diagnostic utility of next-generation sequencing panel tests in the diagnosis of skeletal dysplasias" (Poster: eP346), found that NGS panels enabled diagnosis in 42 percent of patients. Skeletal dysplasias involve more than 450 heritable conditions that cause abnormalities of cartilage and bone, but diagnosis is challenging given significant overlap in symptoms. The analysis also demonstrated a diagnostic yield of 62 percent in prenatal cases, suggesting that testing in prenatal situations has significant clinical utility.

Abstracts can be accessed on the ACMG website.

Among the scientific and clinical work being presented at the meeting are:

Quest Diagnostics and Blueprint Genetics are improving patient outcomes through high-quality genomic testing. Quest Diagnostics is the leader in advanced diagnostics, including in genetics and genomics. The company offers more than 1,000 genetic tests, including whole exome sequencing, germline and somatic gene sequencing, noninvasive prenatal screening, pharmacogenomics as well as cytogenetics and biochemical genetic testing. With a global customer base in over 70 countries, Blueprint Genetics brings specialty genetics knowledge in sequencing and bioinformatics and variant interpretation and reporting to Quest, which complements and extends its existing genetics leadership. Quest Diagnostics' 600 MDs and PhDs and genetic counselors aid physicians in test selection and interpretation and publish hundreds of studies each year.

About Quest DiagnosticsQuest Diagnosticsempowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world's largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals intheUnited States, and our nearly 50,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives.

About Blueprint GeneticsBlueprint Genetics, a Quest Diagnostics company, is a leading specialty genetics and bioinformatics company focused on providing genetic testing for inherited diseases. The company is based in Helsinki and Seattle, with a customer base spanning over 70

SOURCE Quest Diagnostics

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Quest Diagnostics and Blueprint Genetics to Present New Insights from Genetic Testing at the 2021 Annual American College of Medical Genetics and...

In the US, Imminent Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes To Fight Dengue – The Wire Science

This spring, the biotechnology company Oxitec plans to release genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. Oxitec says its technology will combat dengue fever, a potentially life-threatening disease, and other mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika mainly transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

While there have been more than 7,300 dengue cases reported in the United States between 2010 and 2020, a majority are contracted in Asia and the Caribbean, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In Florida, however, there were 41 travel-related cases in 2020, compared with 71 cases that were transmitted locally.

Native mosquitoes in Florida are increasingly resistant to the most common form of control insecticide and scientists say they need new and better techniques to control the insects and the diseases they carry. There arent any other tools that we have. Mosquito nets dont work. Vaccines are under development but need to be fully efficacious, says Michael Bonsall, a mathematical biologist at the University of Oxford, who is not affiliated with Oxitec but has collaborated with the company in the past, and who worked with the WHO to produce a GM mosquito-testing framework.

Bonsall and other scientists think a combination of approaches is essential to reducing the burden of diseases and that, maybe, newer ideas like GM mosquitoes should be added to the mix. Oxitecs mosquitoes, for instance, are genetically altered to pass what the company calls self-limiting genes to their offspring; when released GM males breed with wild female mosquitoes, the resulting generation does not survive into adulthood, reducing the overall population.

But Oxitec has been proposing to experimentally release GM mosquitos in the Keys since 2011, and the plan has long been met with suspicion among locals and debate among scientists. Some locals say they fear being guinea pigs. Critics say they are concerned about the possible effects GM mosquitoes could have on human health and the environment. In 2012, the Key West City Commissionobjected to Oxitecs plan; in a non-binding referendum four years later, residents of Key Haven where the mosquitoes would have been released rejected it, while residents in the surrounding county voted in support of the release. With the decision left up to the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, officials approved the trial to be conducted elsewhere in the Keys.

According to Oxitec, the release was delayed due to a transfer of jurisdiction over the project from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The company reapplied for approval to release a new version of the mosquitoes, called OX5034, in the Keys. In May, the EPA granted a two-year experimental use permit, which the agency can cancel at any time. State and local sign-off soon followed finally giving the project the greenlight.

Oxitecs OX5034 mosquitoes are the first GM mosquitoes approved for release in the US. The company has already conducted a trial with the OX5034 mosquitoes in Brazil and released more than a billion of a previous version, called OX513A, there and in other locations over the years including the Cayman Islands. The company says it is confident in the effectiveness and safety of the technology.

But some scientists want to hit pause on Oxitecs Florida trial, to find what they say is a fairer process in deciding to release the mosquitoes. Others want to see clearer proof that this technology is even necessary, claiming that the company has only released its most positive data with the public and has kept other key data, including whether the mosquitoes curb disease transmission, private. And if the release actually launches as planned, some Keys residents say they aim to interfere.

Critics also say that Oxitec failed to engage with local communities in Florida and get their consent to release the mosquitoes. Whats the most upsetting is that the very people that are going to be most impacted, both by the benefits or the risks of such a decision, have like the smallest voice in how these choices are made. I think thats a really big issue, says Natalie Kofler, a molecular biologist and bioethicist who founded Editing Nature, a platform that advocates for inclusive decision-making processes to steer the use of genetic technology. If Oxitec doesnt do this right, she adds, we could have a huge impact on delaying the use of other beneficial technologies like that in the future.

Oxitecs OX5034 mosquitoes are programmed to combat the transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses by suppressing local Aedes aegypti populations. Oxitec which is US-owned and based in the United Kingdom describes their mosquitoes as friendly because they will only release males, which, unlike females, do not bite humans or transmit disease.

Also read: Clever Approach: Scientists Create GM-Free Organisms Using Genetic Engineering

At Oxitecs laboratory in the UK, the company genetically engineers the mosquitoes, giving the insects the self-limiting gene that makes the females dependent on the antibiotic tetracycline. Without the drug, they will die. Eggs from these genetically-altered mosquitoes which will hatch both male and female insects will be shipped to the Keys. Mosquitoes require water to mature from an egg to an adult; when Oxitecs team adds water to the boxes the mosquitoes will be deployed in, both GM males and GM females will hatch. With no tetracycline present in the box, the GM females are expected to die in early larval stages.

The male mosquitoes will survive and carry the gene. When they leave the boxes, the insects will, hypothetically, fly away to mate with wild females to pass the gene to the next wild generation, according to Nathan Rose, head of regulatory affairs at Oxitec. Kevin Gorman, the companys chief development officer, says the local female mosquito population will be increasingly reduced which will also reduce the number of wild male mosquitoes in the treatment areas.

Gorman emphasised to Undark that the EPA and other regulators found no risk in using tetracycline in breeding their genetically-altered mosquitoes. But some scientists think the presence of this antibiotic in the environment does pose a risk. According to Jennifer Kuzma, co-founder and co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Centre at North Carolina State University, tetracyline is commonly used in Florida to prevent bacterial diseases in agriculture particularly in citrus groves and to treat bacteria in sewage plants.

The use of the antibiotic for these purposes may mean that it will remain in the environment, especially in water where the mosquitoes breed, which could allow Oxitecs female mosquitoes to survive. While the company does not plan to release the mosquitos near areas where the antibiotic is used, Kuzma says the EPAs risk assessment did not include testing of any standing water for tetracycline something, she adds, would have been easy enough to do for good due diligence.

Skeptics of Oxitecs GM mosquitoes include local residents, physicians, scientists and environmental activists. Many of these opponents say they arent anti-GMO, but disagree with how the approval process has been handled. One group has even kept a running list of what it sees as Oxitecs wrongdoings since it first began experimental releases. The list includes Oxitecs lack of disease monitoring in the countries where it has released mosquitoes; the unknown price of its technology; and complaints that the company has overstated the success of some of it its trials.

I cannot trust this company. I cannot trust this technology, says Mara Daly, a resident of Key Largo who says shes been following Oxitecs plans for nine years.

This is not a traditional pesticide, she adds. This is not a chemical that you can trace. This is something completely different, new emerging technology, and we need better regulation.

Phil Goodman, chairman of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD), an independently-elected commission carrying out mosquito control within Monroe County, says that many of those who discredit Oxitecs evidence do not understand the technology. Theyre fear-mongering, he says.

They have very little credibility here in the Florida Keys as far as Im concerned, he adds.

But people like Daly and Barry Wray, executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, disagree. We want to know its safe, says Wray, who notes that his group more generally supports GM technology. We dont have another Florida Keys ecosystem. We dont have another Florida Keys community. We have this one.

Daly, Wray, and others point to what they perceive as the FKMCDs disrespect for public opinion. They argue that the community wasnt given a chance to consent before the EPA approval. There was a 30-day public forum in September 2019 about Oxitecs technology application, with 31,174 comments opposing release and 56 in support. A statement emailed to Undark by Melissa Sullivan, an EPA spokesperson, noted that the agency considered these comments during the review, but critics think it happened too quickly to be of real use.

In June, Kofler and Kuzma wrote an opinion piece in The Boston Globe about the EPA approval, critiquing the agencys regulatory system and calling for a better process for evaluating new biotechnologies. The researchers expressed concern that the EPA did not convene an independent, external scientific advisory panel to review Oxitecs claims about its mosquito strategy and that the agency only publicly released its risk assessment after approving the technology. The American public, Kofler and Kuzma wrote, needs to be assured that these decisions are made free of conflicts of interest. The statement from the EPAs Sullivan noted that the agency conducted anextensive risk assessment based on the best available science.

Some critics also wanted there to be more public engagement. Kofler and Kuzma say they offered to provide their expertise, along with other outside experts, to the mosquito control district to allow more discussion about the GM mosquitoes with the Keys community. But Kofler says the district wasnt responsive. Oxitec itself launched webinars about their new product, but not until after the EPA approval. Here we are, like in the final hour, having these conversations that needed to be happening a year ago, says Kofler.

Without public trust and enthusiasm, it doesnt matter whether Oxitecs mosquito technique works, says Guy Reeves, a genetic researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, who stresses that he doesnt think the companys approach is unsafe. If the population in Florida Keys becomes so sensitised to this issue that they can no longer cooperate with each other thats good for the mosquitoes, not good for the people, he adds.

Based on their first generation mosquito OX513A, Oxitec says it has shown that the approach reduces a targeted mosquito population in trials in both Brazil and the Cayman Islands. But theres no evidence that this new OX5034 mosquito release will actually be worth it for mosquito suppression, says Reeves. Oxitec also hasnt explained how their new mosquito will directly curb human diseases, such as dengue. Reducing disease transmission and burden should be measures of efficacy for this technology, says Kofler.

According to Gorman, independent disease suppression data has only been collected by municipalities in Brazil because thats where most of the companys trials have been released in larger scales. These municipalities have shown that Oxitec mosquitoes have reduced dengue cases in areas of release, Gorman says. In order for Oxitec to collect additional data, he adds, the company needs to release and test large areas over sustained periods of time. Gorman maintains that the company is not required to report formal health impact studies.

Reeves adds that Oxitec also hasnt explained what resources are needed to sustain this product, how long it could take to be effective, or the cost. When asked about the cost of the Florida Keys project, Oxitec responded to Undark by email: Oxitec is a pre-commercial, pre-profit company. We will not profit from this pilot project in Florida. We are paying for it ourselves.

Oxitec has released more than a billion of their OX513A mosquitoes over the past 10 years. According to independent scientists, some of those experiments did not go well.

For example, researchers at Yale University and collaborators from Brazil analysed Oxitecs 2015 release of OX513A in Brazil. The scientists confirmed that some offspring of the genetically modified mosquitoes which were supposed to die and not pass new genes to the wild population survived to adulthood and mated with their native counterparts. Between 10 and 60 percent of the native mosquitoes contained genes from Oxitec, according to the Yale study, which published in Nature in 2019. The papers authors concluded they do not know what impacts these mixed mosquitoes have on disease control or transmission, but added that their findings underscore the importance of monitoring the genetics of the insects.

Oxitec disagreed with the findings and responded on the journals website. Oxitec told Gizmodo that Yales study includes numerous false, speculative, and unsubstantiated claims and statements about Oxitecs mosquito technology. And when Kofler and three other scientists wrote about Oxitecs Brazil trial in The Conversation, Oxitec pushed to have the article retracted, says Kofler.

For this coming release, some Key Largo locals are willing to act on their anger. Daly, for instance, says that if the mosquitoes are deployed in her neighbourhood, shell try to put insecticide in any box she finds or send it to an expert to test even if it means getting in trouble with the federal authorities. I already have my arresting officer and she said shes gonna clean her handcuffs for me, she says. I dont care.

Ideally, Daly says, it wont have to come to that. She and other locals hope to stop Oxitec before the latest mosquitos are delivered. Daly says she has been busy organising protests like one that happened recently in Key Largo and giving out yard signs to residents who dont want their property used in the trial. Locals are pissed off. So I have been busy getting the press to cover the local opposition, Daly wrote in an email to Undark.

The first flying insect or animal that can actually use our human blood for a friggin trial for a product to come to market without my consent, Daly says.

Thats my blood, she adds. Thats my sons blood. Thats my dogs blood.

Taylor White is a freelance journalist based in Cape Cod, MA and a graduate of the Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Program at the NYU school of journalism. Her work has appeared in NOVA GBH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, GenomeWeb, Spectrum and Science Vs.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

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In the US, Imminent Release of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes To Fight Dengue - The Wire Science

Behavioral disorders in children, their symptoms, and treatment – Medical News Today

All young children display impulsive or defiant behavior occasionally. Sometimes, this is part of a normal emotional reaction. But if these behaviors are extreme or outside the norm for their level of development, it could be a sign of a behavioral disorder.

The most common behavioral disorders in children are:

In this article, we discuss some of the most prevalent behavioral disorders in children, their symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms male, female, or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes behavioral disorders as involving a pattern of disruptive behaviors in children that last for at least 6 months and cause problems in school, at home, and in social situations.

This is different from the challenging behaviors children sometimes display. Almost all children will have tantrums, or act in aggressive, angry, or defiant ways at some point.

While challenging, these behaviors are a normal part of childhood development. Often, they are the result of strong emotions that the child is expressing in the only way they know how.

As a result, healthcare professionals only diagnose a behavioral disorder when the disruptive behaviors are severe, persistent, and outside the norm for the childs developmental stage.

Behavioral disorders are also different from autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is an umbrella term for neurodevelopmental conditions that affect how some children communicate, socialize, and process sensory stimuli.

ASD may cause behaviors in children that caregivers find unusual or challenging, but these are the result of how they experience the world.

The following sections look at some specific behavioral disorders and their symptoms.

ADHD is a disorder that causes difficulty focusing attention. It can also cause hyperactivity and impulsivity.

There are three ADHD subtypes, with the diagnosis depending on the symptoms the child displays most often. The subtypes are:

A child with inattentive type ADHD may:

A child with hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD may:

A child with combined ADHD will exhibit a mixture of the above behaviors.

Doctors often diagnose ADHD after the age of 6. This is because the symptoms can be more apparent when a child starts school, and struggles to adjust to more quiet, sedentary activities.

Learn more about how ADHD can manifest differently in girls.

Those with CD tend to violate basic social rules and the rights of others. This can have a significant impact on someones academic, social, and home life. It can develop both in childhood or in adolescence.

The symptoms of CD include:

Many young people with CD have difficulty interpreting the behavior of others. For example, they may believe a person is behaving in a hostile way toward them when they are not. This causes them to escalate toward aggressive or violent behavior.

People with CD may also have difficulty feeling empathy, or have another condition, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder that affects their thoughts and behavior.

According to Mental Health America, CD may affect 616% of boys in the general population, and 29% of girls. If CD first manifests before age 11, it is more likely to persist into early adult life.

Children and adolescents with ODD display an ongoing pattern of hostile behavior toward authority figures, such as parents, caregivers, or teachers. Unlike conduct disorder, children with ODD tend to violate minor rules, rather than major rules and social norms.

The potential signs of ODD include:

It is worth noting that some clinicians have criticized the concept of ODD, arguing that it medicalizes normal child behavior. It is common for children to behave angrily or defiantly when they are unhappy, so it can be difficult to distinguish between ODD and behavior that is related to stress.

Doctors can only diagnose ODD if the behavior has been persistent for 6 months, causes constant disruption at home or school, and is not the result of another mental health condition.

There is no single cause for behavioral disorders. It is likely that a mixture of physiological and environmental factors play a role.

But it is important to note that a child of any background, sex, or gender can have a behavioral disorder.

The following factors may influence their development:

Evidence suggests that changes in brain structure, development, and neurotransmitter levels may influence behavioral disorders. For example, areas of the brain that control attention are less active in children with ADHD.

Low serotonin and high sensitivity to cortisol, a stress hormone, may also play a role in aggression.

Additionally, conditions that affect learning ability may have an impact, as children with intellectual disabilities are twice as likely to have a behavioral disorder.

Behavioral disorders appear to be more common in children with a low birth weight, or who were born prematurely.

ODD may also be more common in children exposed to toxins in the womb, such as tobacco smoke, or in children whose parents or caregivers have substance abuse disorders.

Behavioral disorders can run in families. This could indicate a genetic predisposition for some people to develop them.

But in the case of ODD, scientists have not identified a specific gene that could explain this. Older studies have shown that people with ADHD, ODD, and CD share similar genetic traits, but none were unique to these disorders.

Male children are more likely to have behavioral disorders than female children. It is unclear if this is due to biological differences, or whether differences in gender norms and expectations influence how male children behave or develop.

For example, girls with ODD may be more likely to express aggression through words, rather than actions. This may mean the behavior is less obvious, and so less likely to receive a diagnosis.

Psychological trauma is a complex emotional and physical response to severe or chronic stress. Early exposure to trauma can impact child development.

Any experience that causes significant distress can be traumatic, but common examples that may affect children include:

Behavioral disorders are more common in people from low-income backgrounds, which may be due to increased levels of stress.

It is also possible to confuse child traumatic stress with a behavioral disorder, as they have overlapping symptoms.

It is important to consult a mental health professional if a child may have a behavioral disorder. A specialist can diagnose the disorder through an assessment process. This may include:

It is not possible for parents or caregivers to diagnose behavioral disorders themselves. An early diagnosis can significantly improve the effectiveness of treatments.

But many child psychologists will not diagnose a behavioral disorder in very young children, particularly those of preschool age or younger. This is because it can be challenging to distinguish between normal and abnormal behavior in this age group.

Over 80% of preschoolers have mild tantrums occasionally. Because young children experience huge developmental changes in a short period of time, they may outgrow short-term behavioral difficulties.

The management of behavioral disorders can vary depending on the childs needs, their familys needs, and the type and severity of their disorder. Approaches that may help include:

Patience, empathy, and encouragement are important for helping to boost self-esteem. An authoritative parenting style, which involves listening to children whilst also setting reasonable rules and boundaries, is also helpful.

It is important to note that bootcamp-style programs and tough love are not effective for behavioral disorders. In fact, they can be very damaging.

Caregivers should speak with a pediatrician if they think their child may be showing signs of a behavioral or developmental disorder. The doctor may refer the child to a specialist, such as a:

It is also important for caregivers to seek support for their own well-being. They may wish to make use of respite care, if available, or to speak with a therapist. There are also support groups where caregivers can connect with others raising children with behavioral disorders.

Most children have temper tantrums or display impulsive or defiant behavior at some point. These are usually a normal part of child development.

But in cases where the behavior is persistent and constant, or outside the norm for the childs age and level of development, it may be a sign of a behavioral disorder.

With early and appropriate treatment, families can learn to manage the behaviors. In many cases, careful treatment improves behavior over time.

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Behavioral disorders in children, their symptoms, and treatment - Medical News Today

How stress impacts women’s heart health – Medical News Today

The relationship between psychosocial stress and CHD seems to be stronger in women than in men. It may also vary depending on the type of stress or stressor.

However, it is unclear how different types of psychosocial stress impact womens risk of developing CHD.

For this reason, a research team from Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health in Philadelphia, PA, decided to investigate the association of psychosocial stressors including job strain, stressful life events, and social strain with the incidence of CHD in women.

They combed through the data collected as part of the Womens Health Initiative Observational Study (WHIOS), to assess the independent and combined impact of stressful life events, social relationships, and paid work.

Their findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association, indicate that work and social strain seem to pack a double punch, increasing womens risk of developing CHD by 21%.

Stressful life events and social strain, that is, the negative aspects of social interactions or relationships, also increased womens risk of developing CHD by 12% and 9%, respectively.

Our findings are a critical reminder to women, and those who care about them, that the threat of stress to human health should not go ignored, says Dr. Conglong Wang, the studys lead author. This is particularly pertinent during the stressors caused by a pandemic.

If true, these findings could shift the focus of preventing CHD in women from managing current stress to finding ways to prevent stress at the source.

It would also serve as a serious reminder that stress is a major threat to human beings, women in particular, and that this threat must be addressed promptly and properly.

Over the past few years, several major studies have established that psychosocial stress from different aspects of life may impact the risk of developing CHD.

This is likely because psychosocial stress can disrupt homeostasis the optimal internal functioning of organs and their systems which can lead to an illness.

As a result, stress can intensify cardiovascular inflammation and reactivity, resulting in metabolic changes that increase the risk of developing CHD.

Psychosocial stress is also linked with behavioral patterns such as alcohol consumption, smoking, or being physically inactive. Certain medical conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, affect the risk of CHD as well.

Stress may impact men and women differently. The findings from a few studies indicate that the link between psychosocial stress and CHD may be stronger in women than in men.

In one study, women were more likely than men to document high average stress levels and associated emotional and physical symptoms, including exhaustion and depression.

Another study found that women may be exposed to psychological stressors that men experience less commonly.

However, scientists still do not know how different stressors influence womens risk of having CHD. It is therefore unclear which stressors affect the risk of developing this condition the most.

This makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to advise women on the best ways to reduce their likelihood of developing CHD. It also means women cannot be sure which stressors are most important to address to keep CHD at bay.

In the new study, the research team analyzed data collected as part of the WHIOS, an initiative aimed at finding better ways to prevent heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis in women.

The scientists analyzed data from 80,825 women living in a diverse array of states across the United States that had experienced menopause.

Participants were aged 5079 when the WHIOS started tracking them, and the average time women were tracked was 14 years and 7 months. Women assessed stressors in the WHIOS using self-reporting questionnaires.

After adjusting for variables such as job tenure, socioeconomic factors, age, and additional stressors, the researchers found a high stressful life events score increased the risk of developing CHD by 12%, and high social strain by 9%.

The team also noted that the impact of work and social strain seem to work synergistically, increasing womens CHD risk by 21%. Job strain alone was not linked with a higher CHD risk.

These findings could have important implications for how healthcare professionals and women themselves decide to best tackle stress to reduce their CHD risk.

It is of note that a disproportionately large number of participants in the study were white and held more than a high school diploma. The teams findings may also be impacted by the healthy worker bias, according to which people who are less healthy are more likely to be unemployed.

Moreover, the team did not take into account other important compounding factors, such as working hours and social support systems, which are associated with CHD.

Also, the scientists only focused on the impact of stress related to a persons most recent or current job, ignoring the change of jobs throughout life.

The researchers write that more studies are necessary to determine the impact of job demands as they align with sex.

A persons sex and socioeconomic status may also affect their ability to manage stress. That is why future studies will also have to identify subgroups of people that are more likely to benefit from preventative stress interventions than others.

However, these new findings help fuel the need for more advanced, diverse research exploring the link between stress, heart disease, and sex or gender.

They may also encourage healthcare professionals and women alike to reconsider their best options for reducing their CHD risk and improving overall health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted ongoing stresses for women in balancing paid work and social stressors. We know from other studies that work strain may play a role in developing CHD, but now, we can better pinpoint the combined impact of stress at work and at home on these poor health outcomes.

Dr. Yvonne Michael, senior author and associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health

My hope is that these findings are a call for better methods of monitoring stress in the workplace and remind us of the dual burden working women face as a result of their unpaid work as caregivers at home.

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How stress impacts women's heart health - Medical News Today

Just desserts: The Cookies and Cakes family genealogy – Leafly

Leafly honors the 50th anniversary of 4:20 (aka 420 or 4/20) this April with a celebration of legendary strain families. Weve already covered famous Hazes, Tangies, Purples, and OG Kushes. Now for the headliner: Cookies and Cakes!

Why do people wait two hours in line to spend $70 on an eighth-ounce of weedin the middle of a pandemic?

Easy: the Cookies strain of cannabis transcends mere geneticsits a lifestyle.

On November 4, cannabis brand Cookies new Apples and Bananas release drew several hundred young, heavy-THC smokers to Berners on Haight in San Francisco. In less than 90 minutes, guys in crisp, white sneakers and basketball shorts bought up all the pricey, designer weed.

They Instagrammed the chic bags of chunky, fragrant, mega-potent bud, flexing on their friends. One group couldnt wait to get home. They ripped bongloads out the side seats of a dusty, parked Hyundai with no hubcaps.

Cookies and Cakes strains of cannabisincluding Sunset Sherbert, Gelato, Runtz, Wedding Cake, and GMO Cookiescomprise modern pots center of gravity. Thin Mint Cookies, Animal Cookies, Platinum Cookies, and on and onthey are the top-selling cultivars in legal stores today, and their genes appear in the lions share of hyped new weed varieties.

From 2007 to the presentand emanating out of the San Francisco Bay AreaCookies hard-hitting, hybrid indica power, and its complex, sweet- scrumptious aroma has made fans of elite pot snobs, medical marijuana patients with PTSD, all-star rappers, and now almost everyone who partakes.

Cookies got this way because breeders like Jai Jigga Chang and Mario Mr. Sherbinski Guzman hybridized the best of the early 2000s OG Kushes to some truly exotic sativas. They carved up a wave of medical marijuana and adult-use legalization with rapper/business mogul Berner and wrote the playbook for viral weed marketing.

The Cookies story spans the recent histories of cannabis, weed law reform, San Francisco, and hip-hop. Its a story of plant worship and profit-chasing, of the serendipity of city life, and the power of sharing gifts instead of hoarding them.

Grower Ghost at ABF Genetics, short for Always Be Flowering, and spreader of Forum Cut Cookies, said growing Cookies is something that changed my life.

It became that thing, he said. I challenge people to say what since Cookiesor that was not derived through that whole gene poolhas really changed cannabis.

Haters gonna hate, but the future still happens first in San Francisco.

So it went with weed strain Girl Scout Cookies, which San Francisco breeder Jigga developed for the exploding medical marijuana market in the late 2000s.

In SF, peak prohibition met surging demand for cannabis and prices bloomed. Californias police arrested smokers by the tens of thousands per year. Growers used pseudonyms only, and feared being followed home from a party and beaten and robbed, or followed home from the hydroponics store and raided by police.

Californians legalized medical marijuana in 1996, and personal defenses against cannabis prosecution had become collective defensesgreen-lighting the first dispensaries and more grows.

There was this feeling of energy in the Bay Area that there was something going on that was truly special.

The profits outweighed the risk. The Bay Areas medical and recreational consumers, including its rappers, adored weed. In that climate, wholesale pounds of OG Kush, the then-reigning champion strain, might go for $3,500-$4,000.

There was this feeling of energy in the Bay Area that there was something going on that was truly special, said Mr. Sherbinski. An industry was being born.

Just like so many other thingsmusic, or technologycannabis also had its first place there, he said.

Today most states have medical laws, and 18 have adult-use legalization, now including New York, Virginia, and New Mexico. The legal industry generates $18.3 billion and employs 321,000.

Mr. Sherbinski relates how San Francisco breeder Jigga took his favorite OG Kush, called a Flo Rida OG (pronounced Flow Rider), and crossed it to his mix of a rocket-like strain he named F1 and another strain called Durb.

Mr. Sherbinski told Leafly Durb was not Durban Poison.

Ive had the F1. And Ive had the Durb. And Ive had the Flo Rida OG, said Sherbisnki.

(In 2014, Jigga told High Times that Durb was in fact Durban Poison. Bottom line: Jigga crossed three strains, F1 Durb to Flo Rida OG, to make Cookies.)

Jigga stayed busy, too. He also crossed the F1 Durb to another leader of the day, Granddaddy Purple, thus creating Cherry Pie.

Other, more apocryphal origin stories exist, but what happens is theres little pieces of info that get out and people build on that, said Sherbinski. The above facts are what I was told by Jigga.

Jigga didnt call us back, but either way, Cookies became a sleeper hit.

And I remember grinding it up and smoking it and thinking, Wow, its a super-unique, tasty flower. And I said, Yeah, I gotta track down the cut.

Ghost at ABF Genetics said he got introduced to the strain through a friend from Jigga and Sherbinskis Sunset District clique. (Many of these guys grew up together, going to the same high schools, playing pick-up basketball, smoking weed, listening to rap.)

The veteran grower from back East had collected many, many leading strains. But he still remembered the day his buddy from the Cookies circle brought over a nug of GSC, in about 2008.

It was like curled up in a Ziploc baggy, this little, abused piece of flower, Ghost recalled. And I remember grinding it up and smoking it and thinking, Wow, its a super unique, tasty flower. And I said, Yeah, I gotta track down the cut.

Your reporter has been sampling Cookies since that time period as well.

Cookies nugs present as dense, multicolored, and resinous. It first smells flat and musty, but complex. Break it up and grind it and the smell decoheres into a rowdy mix of sweet, berry, incense, and the savory, burnt part of a sugar cookie. The exhaled smoke hit might contain a note of grape and fuel or gas from the OG.

You get real high with a heavy effect that doesnt make you fall asleep per seyoure just super-lit.

Ghost couldnt get a cut of Cookies that easily. Back then, growers kept new strains to themselves or in a tight circle.

Initial supplies of Cookies remained low, limited to small indoor grows sometimes shielded from police by a medical marijuana defense.

San Francisco rapper and entrepreneur Gilbert Berner Milam Jr. gets credit for truly marketing Cookies, first through hip-hop and rap, and later through social media. Today, Cookies Enterprises commands a global lifestyle brand with licensed stores, unique strains, and partner farms in several legal states.

Cookies benefited from the advent of social media and was the first cannabis strain mentioned relentlessly in hip-hop, said Keith Stephenson, the Oakland, CA owner of Purple Heart Patient Center, reportedly the nations oldest black-owned dispensary.

If you wanted Cookies back then, you had to schlep out to the Hemp Center on Geary Ave. in the Sunsetthis grungy lounge with a Mos Eisley cantina vibe where Berner sometimes budtended. Your fearless reporter distinctly remembers that one and only visit: Junk piled up in the lobby. The weed equivalent of old barflies stared at you from the corner. I bought a gram of GSC there back around 2013(?), and that nug was fire.

Ghost got his hands on one Cookies plant in 2008, when two buddies paid $3,500 for a cut from a relative of a grower in the original circle. He grew out the GSC cutting and verified the result. Ghosts friend who first brought him the flower said, Thats it.

Cookies got loose into the wild when Ghost shared cuttings of his plant with four close friends. Rare strains become a type of currency among high-end connoisseurs that have everything else. Ghosts cut would become known as the Forum Cut, in reference to the internet forums where they debated it.

And the next thing I know, one of them is selling cuts to people; one of them is giving them away; one of them is doing giveaways behind, like, dumpsters. And then the rest of them just kind of spread through the network, he explained. One cutting, or clone, made it to the UK.

Ghosts wholesale pounds of indoor Cookies fetched $4,000, he said, at places like the Green Door.

At this point, a weed grower might assume fame and riches lie in making something special and being the only person with it. Actually, its the opposite.

Supplies stimulate demand, which induces growers, thus increasing supplies, and supporting more demand.

If we hadnt got that cut out as much as it did, it wouldnt have become known as what Cookies is, said Ghost. If its not available, people cant see it. If they cant try it, it doesnt really exist for them. Itll just fade and die off.

If you were a dispensary back then that didnt have Cookies, you werent a dispensary, Mr. Sherbinski said.

The perpetual motion machine of growing, marketing, selling, buying, smoking, and enjoying Cookies added more and more people each harvest.

It was a huge seller for some retailers, said Stephenson at Purple Heart in Oakland, CA. He started carrying Cookies strains in 2012. It definitely deserves to be celebrated.

The core Cookies team released Animal Cookies. There was Thin Mint Cookies. Green Door had Platinum Cookies.

A strain truly arrives when counterfeiting and the name game commences, said Mr. Sherbinski. Everyone slapped a name on a cookies cultivar.

We make the strains and they change the names, he said.

At that point, it became a clusterfuck, added Ghost.

Nowadays, Cookies offspring Gelato and its descendants run the world. But we wouldnt be here without the happy accident of Sunset Sherbert.

By 2012, the original Cookies craze was well underway, and San Francisco grower Mario Guzman, now known as Mr. Sherbinsnki, stood ready to partake in it.

Out in the residential Sunset District of San Francisco, he had crossed a dark, dark, dark purple, stringy sativa Burmese to the best OG Kush around the Bay Area, where pounds sold for $4,200 and $4,300.

Mr. Sherbinksis Burmese crossed with Larry OG became his Pink Panties, due to its pink hairs, or pistils, on the buds. With Pink Panties seeds in hand, he started a crop of seedlings. For research, he stuck one six-inch baby plant into his special, flowering room at his grandmas house.

Flowering room lights are timed to make the plant bloom instead of grow. But instead of blooming a female bud that he could study, the Pink Panties matured into a male. Before Guzman noticed, the male Pink Panties pollinated the entire room of Girl Scout Cookies females in the flowering room.

I didnt realize it would pollinate in a matter of weeks, but it did. It just took off.

All of a sudden, that commercial crop of Cookies bud became a research crop of new seeds. And inside one of them? What we call Sunset Sherbert.

Mr. Sherbinski said the name came to him when he first smoked the strain, and it reminded him of Thrifty ice cream rainbow sherbet, an iconic California childhood flavor for decades. He remembered his mom buying him a scoop for about 10 cents as a kid when they did laundry.

It was a really popping strain in the Bay Area. We were promoting it. Rappers were rapping about it.

When I first smoked Sunset Sherbert I tasted berry, citrus, the lemon, the orange, a little lime, all these different flavors, and I was like, Man, this tastes like Sherbert, he recalled.

He then added the district it came from and boom, Sunset Sherbert. The strain hits smooth, sweet, but still enough power in it to hit your lungs, he said. Everyone likes it, he added, including atypical consumers like women and older smokers, and especially veterans with PTSD.


Pleased as Purple Punch: A Purps family genealogy

The Cookies team applied their marketing formula to Sunset Sherbert and repeated the success of Cookies, Guzman said.

It was a really popping strain in the Bay Area. We were promoting it. Rappers were rapping about it.

Mr. Sherbinski spread small-batch, indoor harvests of sherbert around to influential stores across the statestores like Harborside Health Center in Oakland and the Vapor Room on Haight St.

Part of what created the hype, for me, was it was created with love. There was not a lot of it; I made sure to spread it around to the dispensaries and friends doing a good job of getting it out to the public, he said.

The Cookie and Sunset Sherbert formula may have reached its most evolved form with Gelato, a cross of Sunset Sherbert and Girl Scout Cookies.

For this one, Jigga and Mr. Sherbinski used a substance called colloidal silver to make a female Sunset Sherbet flower produce pollen, then pollinated a GSC.

The resulting seeds are all female, and the team grew them all out, hunting for the best-looking and smelling offspringcalled a phenotype. This pheno-hunt concluded with a private, invite-only tasting by industry heads on June 16, 2014, at a Cuban food restaurant, said Guzman.

The nights picks are so famous, the numbers on the side of the flower pots became famous and emerged as the keepers:

Again, high-quality indoor production, plus on-point influencer marketing, equaled huge demand for the elite plant. And again, rather than hoarding the strain close, Mr. Sherbinski distributed cuts of Gelato 33, sparking a national bumper crop of the stuff.

Ghost uses the word, saturation.

Its one of those things where it just spun and spun and spun, he said.

Today, theres a reason why everything contains Gelato 33 genes: because Gelato grows, looks, smells, and feels amazing. Its architects stimulated the demand and provided the supply. They didnt hoard their fire in a closet. They brought it to others, Prometheus-style, and unlocked weed god mode.

Nowadays, Cookies genes appear in everything. Quality can vary, but it often bests its rivals.

The strains are over-produced now in California. However, its something that people expect to find as a standard variety, said Stephenson.

Even the cheapest of knockoffs attest to the allure of the real thing. If imitation means flattery, the weed world bows to the Cookies strain family. Look at all the headlines:

There are just so many dimensions to Cookies, a seemingly infinite array of facets, all reflecting off this heavy remix of global genetics. Lemon Tree strains and Zkittlez certainly command attention, but theyre still fads, compared to Cookies, said Mr. Sherbinski.

I think what makes a truly good strain is when people come back to it. Its such a good strain that even if people get away from it for a while when they come back to it, shes going to be there with open arms.

David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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Just desserts: The Cookies and Cakes family genealogy - Leafly

Fiona gives her biggest admirer, Timothy the hippo, ‘kiss painting’ for his 6th birthday – WLWT Cincinnati

Timothy the hippo, otherwise known as Fiona's biggest admirer, has been known to give Fiona lavish gifts for her birthday and Valentine's Day. But on Timothy's sixth birthday Wednesday, Fiona gave Timothy quite a special gift.Timothy, who's known to write Fiona love letters on Facebook on Thursdays with the help of his friends at the San Antonio Zoo, wrote Fiona this week to thank her for giving him what he called a "kiss painting." The painting showed Fiona's mouth on a canvas in rainbow paint."Ive been practicing my kisses you know....blush! Thank you so much and remember I always think you are the most beautiful hippo Ive ever seen!" the Facebook post said.Timothy lives more than 1,100 miles away at the San Antonio Zoo, but he's been madly in love with Fiona for years now.For her birthday last year, Timothy gifted Fiona an Edible Arrangement, and clearly, by looking at the joy in her face in the image below, you can tell how happy she was.This year for Valentine's Day, Timothy stepped up his game and went the extra mile or 3,000 extra miles to be more exact to give an extra special gift to his longtime crush.Timothy purchased a small property of Scottish land in Fionas name, giving her the name Lady Fiona.The Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums Band helped in the celebration with song and dance.Fiona needs to be at least 5 years old before she starts thinking about boys, according to Wendy Rice, the head keeper at Cincinnati Zoo's Africa Department. Fiona turned 4 years old this year."The genetics are basically what's going to matter most," Rice said. "If and when Fiona were to get a breeding recommendation some day, it would be based entirely on who was genetically the best match for her -- that may or may not be Timothy."Fiona's genes are valuable in the world of Nile hippopotamuses. And eventually, Rice said, the goal is to have Fiona breed if she can. But we're talking way down the road, Rice said, when Fiona is at least 5 years old.What happens then?"We obviously don't want her going anywhere," Rice said. "We love her. She's our baby and this hometown loves her. We're fairly certain people would riot if we said Fiona was leaving. We're hopeful that if she gets a breeding recommendation, that a male would be brought here for her so she wouldn't have to leave Cincinnati."

Timothy the hippo, otherwise known as Fiona's biggest admirer, has been known to give Fiona lavish gifts for her birthday and Valentine's Day. But on Timothy's sixth birthday Wednesday, Fiona gave Timothy quite a special gift.

Timothy, who's known to write Fiona love letters on Facebook on Thursdays with the help of his friends at the San Antonio Zoo, wrote Fiona this week to thank her for giving him what he called a "kiss painting." The painting showed Fiona's mouth on a canvas in rainbow paint.

"Ive been practicing my kisses you know....blush! Thank you so much and remember I always think you are the most beautiful hippo Ive ever seen!" the Facebook post said.

Timothy lives more than 1,100 miles away at the San Antonio Zoo, but he's been madly in love with Fiona for years now.

For her birthday last year, Timothy gifted Fiona an Edible Arrangement, and clearly, by looking at the joy in her face in the image below, you can tell how happy she was.

This year for Valentine's Day, Timothy stepped up his game and went the extra mile or 3,000 extra miles to be more exact to give an extra special gift to his longtime crush.

Timothy purchased a small property of Scottish land in Fionas name, giving her the name Lady Fiona.

The Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums Band helped in the celebration with song and dance.

Fiona needs to be at least 5 years old before she starts thinking about boys, according to Wendy Rice, the head keeper at Cincinnati Zoo's Africa Department. Fiona turned 4 years old this year.

"The genetics are basically what's going to matter most," Rice said. "If and when Fiona were to get a breeding recommendation some day, it would be based entirely on who was genetically the best match for her -- that may or may not be Timothy."

Fiona's genes are valuable in the world of Nile hippopotamuses. And eventually, Rice said, the goal is to have Fiona breed if she can. But we're talking way down the road, Rice said, when Fiona is at least 5 years old.

What happens then?

"We obviously don't want her going anywhere," Rice said. "We love her. She's our baby and this hometown loves her. We're fairly certain people would riot if we said Fiona was leaving. We're hopeful that if she gets a breeding recommendation, that a male would be brought here for her so she wouldn't have to leave Cincinnati."

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Fiona gives her biggest admirer, Timothy the hippo, 'kiss painting' for his 6th birthday - WLWT Cincinnati

The New York Times Can Tell The Difference Between Men And Women With Vaccines But Not Pronouns – The Federalist

At any given time on The New York Times website, a quick search for gender will yield an array of articles on the ins and outs of sex personified and the endless ways biology teams up with political adversaries to oppress queer people.

One recent so-called gender headline offered A Guide To Neopronouns, those nonsensical sounds like ze and zir that break from the sex binary and thus from reality. Are you a person, place or thing? the article posed, going on to imply that identity is nothing more than an aesthetic.

How Do I Define My Gender if No One Is Watching Me? probed another title, with all the flavor of If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? without the philosophy. Instead, this article refocused on what happens to so-called gender expression when its relegated to the stay-at-home privacy of pandemic lockdown. How does gender is a social construct work when theres no social? the author probed, unintentionally revealing the utter emptiness of gender identity when one tries to separate it from biological sex.

The articles are somehow baffling yet mind-numbing. Pieces like these, which seem to be ubiquitous now, are meaningless screeds of semantic acrobatics to convey the experiences of a group of Americans so out of touch with science that they would suppress the wonders of their sex and subscribe to a new doctrine that cannot even share a common language with reality. It is sad and foreign and exhausting, but the New York Times caters to it, creating room in its scarce pages for stories about folks whose prefixes include Mx. where Mr. or Ms. should be.

The brain boggles considering how such science-devoid content can square with another recent Times article. Its a collection of frequently asked COVID-19 vaccine questions. Is the Second Dose Bad? If I Feel OK, Is It Working? Can I Take Tylenol? asked last weeks headline as more and more Americans get vaccinated.

One particular subheading stands out: Is it true that women are more likely to get worse side effects from the vaccine than men?

The answer is full of science-y explanations. Apparently, females can produce double the antibodies of men after getting flu shots or vaccines for hepatitis A or B or for measles, mumps, and rubella.

It also turns out that in aggregate, women have had worse bodily responses to the vaccine than men do, with more women than men experiencing side effects and nearly all the life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, although rare, occurring in women. The Times cites a study revealing that over nearly 30 years, women have made up 80 percent of all anaphylactic vaccine reactions among adults.

[T]he higher rate of side effects in women also has a biological explanation, the article says. While testosterone can weaken a bodys immune response, estrogen can galvanize it. Additionally, many immune-related genes are on the X chromosome, of which women have two copies and men have only one, the Times declares. These differences may help explain why far more women than men are afflicted with autoimmune disease, which occurs when a robust immune response attacks the bodys healthy tissue.

Here, the Times isnt shy about making sex distinctions. Its right there in the science: Men and women are obviously different in myriad ways, with immune and vaccine reactions just being the latest in the spotlight. If its so easy to articulate the innate differences between the sexes, why does the New York Times entertain such gender gibberish as ze/zir and moon/moonself?

For years, the left has shouted that gender has nothing to do with sex. To insist that sex is genetic and results in only men and women is to evoke the LGBT clap-backs that gender is a social construct and chromosomes dont determine your gender.

A paragraph from one of the Times gender articles, however, reveals the deep and depressing hole in that worldview. The self-termed transgender-nonbinary author writes of the pandemic experience:

I was surprised by how much my gender instead seemed to almost evaporate. No longer on the alert for how to signal a restaurants waitstaff that neither he nor she applied to me, or for whether colleagues and neighbors would use the right language devoid of anyone to signal my gender to I felt, suddenly, amorphous and undefined. It was as though when I had swapped my Oxford shoes and neckties for fuzzy slippers and soft sweatpants, I, too, had lost my sharply tailored definition. Where did my own gender reside, then, if not in sending signals of difference?

These reflections are heartbreaking. Not only do they signal the amount of energy that some queer people derive from policing the perceptions of others and the apparent pleasure this may afford them, but it exposes the emptiness of finding ones identity in finding ones identity.

Thats all this futile pursuit truly boils down to. In rejecting the scientific sex binary in favor of amorphous and transient gender theory, a trans persons identity doesnt just become the opposite sex or an association with its pronouns. Rather, his or her identity becomes the lifelong task of asserting that their identity is not what you think.

Thats because the answer to the question, Where did my own gender reside, then, if not in sending signals of difference? is in ones sex. Thats where gender resides. Thats where it has always resided.

When the performative displays inherent in normal everyday life are stolen by pandemic lockdowns, and science and truth are all that remain, were forced to look in the mirror and confront reality: Human beings are genetically male and female, and since language is made to correspond with reality, we refer to those people as either he/him or she/her, consistent with their sex. Although we differ, our identities and thus the language we use to describe them are forever linked to our immutable genetics.

Any deviation from or internal confusion about these realities warrants compassion and assistance, but as weve known since time immemorial and as has been made yet more apparent through pandemic science, social experiments, and personal anecdotes, men and women are real and immutable categories, and they are different.

For a political stripe that prides itself on faithfulness to science, the lefts media and adherents dispense with it wholesale and then cant understand the emptiness that remains. The same science that explains why men and women respond differently to COVID vaccines also explains why eschewing sex in pursuit of gender fluidity is an exercise in futility.

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The New York Times Can Tell The Difference Between Men And Women With Vaccines But Not Pronouns - The Federalist

Opinion | DNA and Race: What Ancestry and 23andMe Reveal – The New York Times

A 23andMe study from 2015 revealed that close to 4 percent of the companys customers who identified as white Americans had at least 1 percent African ancestry, consistent with an African ancestor within the last 11 generations or so. About 12 percent of whites from Southern states like South Carolina and Louisiana had 1 percent or more of African ancestry.

The Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. has calculated that there are millions of contemporary whites who, according to the old, notorious one- drop rule of the Jim Crow era, would have been considered legally black proof not only of the absurdity of that definition of difference, he writes, but of the power of modern science to blow up false narratives about race and about American history. If modern DNA tests had existed during the heyday of mainstream eugenics in the early 20th century, Dr. Gates and others have suggested, they might have served as direct repudiation of that pseudoscience.

So, what happens when Americans learn about the diversity within themselves? The jury is still out on whether direct-to-consumer genetic testing reinforces our sense of immutable racial categories or breaks them down.

Research by Wendy Roth, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that customers basic knowledge of genetics going into testing may play a role in whether tests accentuate or reduce their racial essentialism. Besides, we are not our ethnicity estimates: For a variety of reasons, including the ways in which were shaped by community, family and personal experience, DNA and identity are not the same.

But whats clear from research and from my conversations with hundreds of consumers is that genetic revelations can inspire journeys of self-discovery, helping people rewrite their understandings not only of their families but of their orientations as Americans.

Some people I spoke with recounted how theyre thinking long and hard, for the first time, about what boxes to check on medical forms asking for race. Some have legally changed their names to reflect their forebears. Others are using research to illuminate the lives of ancestors in Africa before the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

One man I interviewed discovered through DNA and genealogy that his grandfather was Black, and that his mother claimed fictional Sicilian heritage to protect her family from the discrimination shed experienced growing up. He has spent the years since researching the Vermont community where his mom grew up, meeting his Black relatives, and rethinking his place in America. The truth about the past is so important, he told me without it, We cant evolve.

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Opinion | DNA and Race: What Ancestry and 23andMe Reveal - The New York Times

Adieu, Bird Flu: Biotech Startup Could End That Virus And Male Chick Kills Free Press of Jacksonville – Jacksonville Free Press

TEL AVIV While the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus grabbed center stage over this past year, biotech startup eggXYt turned its attention to avian influenza the deadly bird flu thats led to the slaughter of millions of infected poultry and also threatens human health.

A new licensing agreement will enable eggXYt to develop genetic resistance in chickens against avian influenza virus using a technology known as gene editing induced gene silencing from U.K.-based Tropic Biosciences.

This is the latest innovation from eggXYt, which has previously been recognized for its idea to determine the sex of chicks before incubation.

Every year, the egg industry destroys some 4 billion male chicks because they can lay eggs and arent the right breed for meat. Using eggXYts automated system would spare these chicks, make 4 billion more eggs available to consumers, and save labor and money for the industry.

Our primary goal is to improve animal welfare and efficiency within the poultry industry, says Yehuda Elram, CEO and co-founder of eggXYt, which is opening a state-of-the-art R&D facility in Jerusalem and raising a Series A round of funding.

Through the gene-silencing technology, eggXYt will expand its poultry portfolio into the field of health.

Following the Covid-19 outbreak, we are all very mindful of the threat of zoonotic diseases to human health and so we are especially motivated to embark on a project that may help to prevent further pandemics, Elram said.

Lifetime resistance

Elram and neuroscientist Daniel Offen (also founder of Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics) established eggXYt in 2016. Their strategy was to build a platform, talent pool and know-how to create a variety of genetics-based solutions for the poultry and livestock industry.

Avian flu was chosen as our next target because it is the number one pain point for the industry from a health point of view, says Elram.

The current main approach is an avian influenza vaccination. However, these expensive vaccines must be individually administered and do not cover all flu strains. They can only reduce, not eradicate, outbreaks.

Our new approach will produce chickens that have intrinsic, wide-range, genetic resistance throughout their whole lifetime and on to their offspring, Elram says.

Tropics bioinformatics platform for gene silencing originally developed to protect banana plants from a fungal disease uses a gene-editing technique that doesnt require adding or deleting genes. This minimal intervention is widely considered non-GMO and safe.

Elram says other genome-editing technologies to develop influenza-resistant chickens aim to change the sequence of genes that code for proteins, and may present greater risks of harmful effects.

The GEiGS platform harnesses naturally occurring defense mechanisms to directly attack disease agents, solving the heavy burden of target gene discovery for gene-editing applications, said Eyal Maori, chief science officer and CEO of Tropic Biosciences.

This is driving extensive interest in the technology from outside parties and we are delighted to partner with eggXYt and other innovative companies from the broader agricultural and life-sciences industries.

MIT Solverecently chose eggXYt as a Solver team for its Sustainable Food Systems Challenge from a pool of 2,600 applicants from 135 countries. The year-long program provides funding and access to VCs and MIT experts.

This could speed eggXYts path to commercialization for all its products. Elram believes eggXYts product will be the first to market and may provide resistance to other pathogens as well.

We estimate it will take 40 months or so to create gene-edited, stable founder flocks of chickens, he says.

Counting chickens before they hatch

At the same time, eggXYt is advancing toward commercializing its flagship product aimed to end the culling of male chicks, usually done by grinding them alive.Consumers care more and more about how food gets onto their plate and what happens between farm and fork, says Elram. This trend is only growing.

He says the buzz started in 2014 when animal welfare activists pushed Unilever producer of Hellmanns mayonnaise, one of the largest egg consumers worldwide to issue a statement that chick culling must end.

Ever since, governments have been enacting legislation to ban chick culling, each country with a different timeline, says Elram, the grandson of Israeli egg farmers.

We are taking the best approach, as we see it. Some of the competition is working on solutions that have to start the incubation process and stop it at some point.

In contrast, eggXYts technology detects the gender of newly laid eggs by picking up a signal from a biomarker right through the shell made possible by a gene-editing technique called CRISPR that recently won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for its developers, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.

To complete the process of designing the device that will detect the signal from each egg of the gene-edited chickens, eggXYt has partnered with strategic investor TBG, whose operating companies make egg-grading and hatchery equipment.

We believe the world is becoming more receptive to the use of high-end technology to solve the worlds most pressing problems, says Elram. That is part of what we are doing with MITbringing together different pieces of the puzzle in the innovation ecosystem to solve big problems.

Biotech startup could end avian flu and male chick killing appeared first on ISRAEL21c.

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and David Martosko)

Adieu, Bird Flu: Biotech Startup Could End That Virus And Male Chick Kills Free Press of Jacksonville - Jacksonville Free Press

Adding value to the herd with beef and dairy crossbreeding – Wooster Daily Record

Matthew Nussbaum| Wayne County Extension

Breed differentiation within a species is quite common. A German Shephard is certainly not equivalent to a Miniature Schnauzer in terms of purpose. There are likewise many differences between our modern beef and dairy breeds.

Yes, some dual-purpose breeds are still preferred on small farms or homesteads, but overall, maximum efficiency is reached with dairy cows that convert feed into milk and beef cattle that convert feed into muscle (meat).

So, why are we discussing the idea of merging beef and dairy genetics? It comes down to market demand and profitability. All dairy cattle will one day become beef cattle. For dairy steers that day comes sooner than for milking cows that are culled after several years of producing milk, but beef is the final destination.

With our bulk meat processing plants and standardized market, consistency is key for smooth operations. Therefore, the beef industry wants livestock that meet a set of standards tht include age, weight, marbling, ribeye shape and size,and dressing percentages at time of harvest.

Those standards are all based on our modern beef cattle profile. Thus, dairy farmers typically experience discounted payments when they sell livestock into the beef market for failure to meet one or several of those standards. Most farmers will still want their entire milking herd to be strictly dairy, as that is often more efficient.

To accomplish this, farmers would select their top milking cows and breed them exclusively with dairy sexed semen. Cows with poor genetics and at the bottom of the production lineup could all be bred to beef sires.

Additionally, all or most of the replacement heifers could be bred to beef as there is some evidence beef breeds have better calving ease than many of our dairy cattle and those replacement heifers are not yet proven producers.

The result is the farms top cows produce nearly all heifer calves for replacements, which increases the farms overall production and genetic improvement, while the bottom cows produce a crossbreed offspring that may be either a heifer or a bull calf.

Unfortunately, beef sexed semen for male dominant offspring is not readily available. While the ideal plan would also include all of our bottom cows producing male crossbreeds that could be raised for beef, selling crossbreeds of either gender is usually more profitable than selling their dairy counterparts for a non-dairy purpose.

This is especially true for dairy steers as they have little purpose outside of the beef market but do not fit the industrys mold for the ideal beef animal.

Note, some aspects of dairy genetics are favorable in the beef market. Dairy breeds naturally have better marbling scores than many of the beef breeds and also have a smaller percentage of trim fat. But the road splits from here when thinking about Holstein versus Jersey dairy cows.

Holstein frames usually are bigger than what the beef market wants. So, selecting a proven sire with a smaller frame size is ideal, and will likely yield easier calving, too.

Jersey cattle have the opposite problem. Look for beef genetics with smaller birth weights, but an increased frame size. Both breeds have great needs for genetics that promote better feed conversion to pounds of gain as we no longer need an animal that is efficient at converting feed into milk production.

Is any beef breed or beef semen good enough to get the job done? That depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If the goal is to be highly profitable by introducing beef genetics, I would answer, no.

Consider paying a little extra for the beef genetics that will best compliment your dairy herd. Essentially, the goal of crossbreeding in this scenario is to make a dairy-beef cross that looks and performs like a beef animal. While it may seem silly, the beef market prefers solid-colored animals.

Breeding Holsteins to Angus or other solid black beef is preferred and similarly, breeding Jerseys to Limousin or Charolais often produces solid cream or fawn-colored cattle. In the end, these cattle should be round and smooth, not angular, about 1200 pounds, and ideally sold before 30 months old if not 2 yrs.

One final thought: if you are trying to produce a marketable beef animal, you must feed it like a beef animal. They are not dairy heifer replacements or dry cows and will perform best on a ration designed for their purpose. This often includes a higher ration of grain with need for a separate pen/facility.

Matthew Nussbaum is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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Adding value to the herd with beef and dairy crossbreeding - Wooster Daily Record

Everything About Male Infertility: Causes, Treatment & Diagnosis – The Quint

According to Dr Ritu S Santwani, Director at Pune Test Tube Baby Centre & Shyam Well Women Clinic, in several cases, enlargement of veins within the scrotum leading to sperm count deterioration is often found to be the cause. Another very important reason is stress.

Hormonal disbalance is also one of the causes of infertility, says Dr Santwani.

She says stress and pandemic have further contributed to increasing cases on male infertility.

"Many people are going to the sauna bath in the gym these days, in which the testicles are exposed to a higher temperature for a longer time. Studies have found that higher temperature also leads to a reduction in the sperm count, she adds.

According to Dr Sowjanya Aggarwal, Principal Consultant, Infertility & IVF, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Max Hospital, Vaishali, It could be physical causes, infections, hormones-related problems. There are no common causes as such. Basically, what we can say is that there are 3 main causes genetics, prior surgery because of cancer or any other major surgery, and medication that can affect semen analysis. Alcohol, drugs, and smoking can also affect this but whether there is a particular limit for that cannot be said. Stress and being overweight can also be the be a cause.

Male infertility can be caused by excess heat, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to toxins, stress, obesity, dietary deficiencies, prostatitis infection, varicocele, and diseases/surgery of the male genital tract, says Dr Rajinder Yadav, Director and HOD, Urology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh

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Everything About Male Infertility: Causes, Treatment & Diagnosis - The Quint

Mirror on the wall? Celebrity look-alikes – The Standard

Patrick and Diamond Platnumz [Photo: Courtesy]

Just how can people who dont share any biological lineage, ethnicity or nationality look-alike?Could be because the bible tells us on good authority that we all came from Adam and Eve and even your wife could thus be your sibling? But does everyone have a doppelganger? Theres a fairly decent chance of it, actually, thanks to the limited number of genes that influence facial features.

Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of neurobiology and behaviour at Cornell University, USA, told the journal Nature that there is only so much genetic diversity to go around, said the scholar who studies appearance variations and genetics in species such as paper wasps and house mice. If you shuffle that deck of cards so many times, at some point, you get the same hand dealt with you twice.

Family members might look alike on average than non-related individuals due to inheritable traits but what explains the resemblance between strangers?

Dr Arthur Beaudet, a professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, also told Nature that theres a huge number of genes that contribute to things like facial structure and, of course, hair, eye and skin colour, which are all highly variable and that more genes are known to be linked to looks than to other areas of human anatomy. Human faces are more variable than we would expect them to be based on how variable other body parts are, Sheehan said.

Here are look-alikes who have recently shocked us.

I wish I could meet John Magufuli- Frank Otieno

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Frank Otieno, a former secondary teacher is an editor at KTN. He resemblances to Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli. The no-nonsense president came to power in 2015. Just like Magufuli Frank also wears glasses, is of dark complexion but the most notable feature which makes the two gentlemen look alike are the nose and lips.

Read Also: How entertainers gifted Magufuli with a new term

Otieno posted a photo online saying he was going to Tanzania for a pep talk with Magufuli as he was tired of the endless questions that were lingering in his mind. The post excited Kenyans on social media and they urged him take the matter seriously.President Magufuli and Frank Otieno [Photo: Courtesy]

Frank told The Nairobian when I started my TV show Dau ya Elimu my followers started saying I look like John Pombe Magufuli. My wife also had similar sentiments. There was a time I was waiting for our crew to come and pick me at Kitengela for a shoot clad in a suit. A man approached and asked me if I had any relationship with Magufuli. I was astonished. For a long time I thought people were looking me in the streets because they see me on TV but I came to learn that it was because I bear a resemblance to Magufuli.

Otieno hails from Siaya County but once worked in Tanzania as a teacher from 1999 to 2001. I remember one of by biology students called Stella Matiko telling me that I looked like Magufuli but I think its just nature and Im excited because my lookalike is a president and a man of the people but Im certain that we have no blood relationship. I wish I could meet him.

I am a carbon copy of First Lady Margaret Kenyatta- Grace Mkabili

Kenyas first lady, Margaret Kenyatta, has an immediately recognizable look. Her short hair alone makes her stand out as well as her glasses and rangi ya pesa complexion. These features have become so synonymous with her that one woman found herself courting fame for sharing the First Ladys look.

Like Margaret Kenyatta, Grace Elizabeth Mkabili is short and light-skinned, and keeps her hair short. The social activist from Voi also wears glasses. Her resemblance to the Margaret Kenyatta is so striking that she has earned the nickname First Lady herself, and is often asked whether theyre blood relations.First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Grace Mkabili [Photo: Courtesy]

Most people are not convinced when I tell them I am not First Ladys sister, said the married mother of three. After I decided to shave my hair and dye it, everyone said I was a carbon copy of the First Lady. The saloonist handed me the mirror and I was shocked to see that I resembled the First Lady.While she met the First Lady once on a Beyond Zero campaign function in Mombasa, Elizabeth maintains she would love to take a photo with Margaret Kenyatta.

Migori preacher is approached for Presidential advise

Pastor Daudi Ojuango, who is interestingly also called Mwai, is a preacher from Migori. From his height and complexion to the shiny bald head, he bears a striking resemblance to former President Mwai Kibaki, as Migori residents were quick to point out. The two look so alike his congregation often confuse him for the President, even approaching him for advice. It has happened so much that the man of God is now used to it.

Read Also: Why Mwai Kibaki prefers living in Muthaiga to Sh400 million Nyeri home

Another man who shares the features of the former president is 63-year-old Ronald Edward Frederick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II, the reigning Kabaka of the Kingdom of Buganda, a constitutional kingdom in modern-day Uganda. He shot into the public consciousness after photos of him surfaced online, and eagle-eyed Kenyans were quick to comment that it was like President Kibaki had stepped back in time. Seeing as both men rose to positions of power, there is clearly something special about those particular genes.

Kalonzo Musyoka wanted to meet his mirror image

When you think of former Vice President and Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka, the thing that immediately springs to mind is a full head of hair and a 90s era moustache.Back in 2017, Jesse Kinyanjui found himself in the public eye after photos emerged of him, sporting the same head of hair and moustache that made Kalonzo so recognizable.The young resident of Ruiru in Kiambu County, was soon trending, as Kenyans on Twitter created the hashtag #Kalonzobro and got creative with the jokes.Kalonzo and Jesse [Photo: Courtesy]

Jesse revealed he had been grooming the moustache since his high school days, and that the resemblance had not gone unnoticed by his schoolmates and neighbours. But the media attention was too much for him to handle, and he was soon craving his old life of anonymity. Kalonzo later commented on the resemblance, saying it showed Kenyans are one, and that he would like to meet Kinyanjui.

Women throw themselves Governor Hassan Joho wa Meru

Few male politicians have been able to capture womens attention as wildly as Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho. His Instagram is a shrine to his unique personal style, and he routinely leaves women drooling with his photos and expensive outfits. As the saying goes, women want to be with him and men want to be him. Well, for Lynn Ngugi, a local businessman in Meru, he got the next best thing.

Read Also: We did not have money so I dropped out of school, Governor JohoNgugi and Joho [Photo: Courtesy]

Ngugi looks so much like Joho he gets a fraction of the female attention the Governor does. He has the signature beard and the smooth-shaven head. He tries to dress like Joho too, though of course, he doesnt have the Governors flamboyance. But it is enough. According to Ngugi, women throw themselves at him because of the resemblance, and he is very proud of the association.

Diamond Platinumz vs the Bodaboda rider

Our brother-in-law Diamond has established himself as the biggest star in East Africa. He created a unique style of music that has propelled him to the top of the making him a household name with a recognizable face and chiselled physique.In 2018, we were treated to the case of a young boda boda rider from Mombasa who looks a lot like the Kanyaga hitmaker. The man, identified online only as Patrick, posted photos of himself on his bike, and Kenyans were quick to note the resemblance, down to his toned biceps.Patrick and Diamond Platnumz [Photo: Courtesy]

Grandmother met Obama from Indonesia and fainted

Ilham Anas, an Indonesian man, shook the world with his resemblance to former US president Barrack Obama. He is often mistaken for the real Obama which has seen him travel around the world. If I am wearing a suit, many people mistake me for the real Obama, he told When I was in America, a grandmother got in the elevator with me and was so shocked to see Barrack Obama. She fainted.While Obama visited Indonesia, the father of two who works as a photographer for a teen magazine was in Los Angeles pretending to be Obama.

Mirror on the wall? Celebrity look-alikes - The Standard

Experts discover new information on cultural exchange between different genetic groups and burials of close genetic relatives in the Stonehenge…

The newresearchusesdatafroma 2018study,whichis stillthe largestanalysisof ancient DNAfrom Britain ever conducted,thatidentifieda >90% replacement of the genetic ancestry of people living in Britain between 2500-2100 BC. Thiscoincidedwith the introduction of Beakermaterial culture and burialpractices,andwas interpreted to indicatethat there were substantial movements of people into Britain from continental Europe during this period.

At the time it was published,popular coverage of the original studyspeculatedthat this wasa rapidevent, potentially involving invasionby male warriors, butthe new study has foundfromdetailed analysis that it was more likely a long-term process, taking place over maybe 10-16 generations,withboth men and women moving for a variety of reasons thatmight haveincluded exchange, pilgrimage, and the pasturing of animals.Incoming populationsand their descendants tended to bury their dead, but local groups probably continued to cremate their dead, which destroys the DNA, or treatthemin ways which leavenorecord.Thearchaeologically invisiblelocalpopulationare only seenwhen they have children with groups who buried their dead. Thismay be partly responsible for why this change in ancestryappearedso rapidat first.

Dr Tom Booth, archaeologist at The Francis Crick Institute has said: Initially it looks like groups of locals and incomers and their descendants lived in parallel with one anotherto some extent occupying the same landscapes, slowly integrating and only having children with each other infrequently.After around 300 yearsthey start having children together more liberally itsat this point, the older population then have a much lower genetic legacyoverall.Why they have such a small overall genetic legacy is still a mystery. It could be thattherejust werent so many people living in Britain at the time these Beaker groups move in from continental Europe.

ProfIanBarnes, Researcher and Division Lead at the Natural History Museum has said:Anissue we face is that wealsodont know how many people there were from either group,althoughpopulation size may be declining inthe localpopulation of Britain at the end of Neolithic. It may be that the reason whywe seem to pick up so many genetic relatives in the Bronze Ageis becauseonly small groups of people were moving into Britain.

The new study also highlights how genetic ties were referenced variably in death among burials in the Stonehenge landscape.A man and his juvenile son were buried next to one another in a cemetery on Amesbury Down.By contrast, aman, hisnephewand his nephews daughter were buried across three different cemeteries separated by severalkilometres.A young man was buried on Boscombe Down with the skull of his paternal cousin or half-brother at his feet.

Prof. JoannaBrck, archaeologist at University College Dublin, said: Existing interpretations of the genetic evidence paint a picture of a patriarchal society, in which male immigrants married localwomen. Our research shows that although links with paternal relatives were important, kinship organization was variable, and other relationships, including with maternal kin, were also significant.Sometimes, people who were not genetically related to each other could also be viewed as kin.

The study found that it is likely there was cultural exchange between existing local groups and incomers.Dr Booth continues Even though they have no ancestry from the older population, they incorporatetheir monuments into their belief systems very quickly. They are burying people in these areas to reference these monuments as prestigious areas to bury their dead even though itwasnttheir genetic ancestors who built them.Stonehengeand its surrounding landscapeareemblematic to a certain extent because its important toallgroups in this period and when theyintegrate,it maintains its importance.

The paper was published inCambridge Archaeological Journal on 11 February 2021.

Notes foreditors

Media contact: Tel: +44 (0)779 969 0151

About the Natural History Museum:

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science researchcentreand the most-visited natural history museum in Europe. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanitys needs with those of the natural world.

It is custodian of one of the worlds most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens. The scale of this collection enables researchers from all over the world to document how species have and continue to respond to environmental changes - which is vital in helping predict what might happen in the future and informing future policies and plans to help the planet.

The Museums 300 scientists continue to represent one of the largest groups in the world studying and enabling research into every aspect of the natural world. Their science is contributing critical data to help the global fight to save the future of the planet from the major threats of climate change and biodiversity loss through to finding solutions such as the sustainable extraction of natural resources.

The Museum uses its enormous global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome over five million visitors each year; our digital output reaches hundreds of thousands of people in over 200 countries each month and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 30 million people in the last 10 years.

The Francis Crick Instituteis a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independentorganisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK,Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and Kings College London.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

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Experts discover new information on cultural exchange between different genetic groups and burials of close genetic relatives in the Stonehenge...

Mice Sperm Sabotage Other Swimmers With Poison | Smart News – Smithsonian Magazine

Sperm are simple cells with a straightforward job: swim until they reach an egg, then fertilize it. But in mice, some sperm resort to divisive tactics in order to gain the advantage.

A study published on February 4 in the journal PLOS Genetics shows that a genetic variation in mouse sperm, called the t-type, can give a swimmer the upper hand. These t-type sperm are able to spread a protein called RAC1 that essentially poisons other sperm. T-type sperm plant the seeds of destruction early in their development, then fortify themselves against RAC-1, Brandon Specktor reports for Live Science. When it comes time to race for the egg, the t-type sperm can swim in a straight line while poisoned sperm swim in hapless circles until they die.

We found out that the level of this protein can be more or less active, depending on whether the sperm have the gene to make it, and whether that gene is flipped on like a light switch, says biologist Alexandra Amaral of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics to Kassidy Vavra at Inverse. The level of protein that is on has to be quite well regulated. If it is too much, sperm don't move well. And if its too low, it also doesnt move well theyre kind of in circles.

T-type sperm produce the RAC1 protein at full throttle.

If all of the sperm in a group are t-type, and theyre all making RAC1, they will all struggle because there is so much of the poisonous protein going around, Sara Rigby reports for Science Focus magazine. On the other hand, if there are no t-type sperm present, then all the other sperm remain relatively healthy and swim well because theres no overabundance of RAC1. However, if a cohort has a mix of t-type and normal sperm, then t-type will have the advantage.

"The trick is that the t-haplotype 'poisons' all sperm, but at the same time produces an antidote, which acts only in t-sperm and protects them," says Bernhard Herrmann, director of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, in a statement. "Imagine a marathon, in which all participants get poisoned drinking water, but some runners also take an antidote."

The t-type sperm do the equivalent of poisoning the drinking water early in sperm development, affecting both themselves and their non-variant peers. All of the sperm inherit genes that make it difficult to interpret the chemical signals around them. But in the final cell division of sperm development, when half of a cells genes go to one sperm and the other half to another, only the sperm that inherit the t-type variation have an extra set of genes that reverses the poisons effect, per Live Science.

The poisoned sperm end up swimming in circles, unable to advance in their quest. But the impervious t-type sperm swim ahead. In this case, theres a 99 percent chance that the sperm that fertilizes the egg first will have the t-type variation. The research shows the importance of small genetic variations in sperms success, Amaral tells Inverse.

The study was conducted in about 100 mouse sperm cells, but not all species sperm behave the same way, University of California, Berkeley, cell biologist Polina Lishko tells Inverse. The study is preliminary, but future research could illuminate the specific molecular mechanism behind RAC1 that makes it damaging to sperm at high levels.

An earlier study showed a similar effect of RAC1 on bull sperm, which is more similar to human sperm than a mouses is. Amaral says that the team plans to conduct future research with human sperm, to see if RAC1 might be involved with some cases of male infertility.

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Mice Sperm Sabotage Other Swimmers With Poison | Smart News - Smithsonian Magazine

Sons of heart-healthy mums more likely to live 10 years longer: Study – The New Paper

It is not just a mother's love that endures.

A woman's influence on her children's health persists well into late middle age, according to a study published in the November issue of the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The study, which enrolled almost 2,000 men and followed their families over 46 years - from 1971 to 2017 - found that the sons of women with heart-healthy lifestyles live nearly a decade longer without developing cardiovascular disease than those whose mothers have unhealthy lifestyles.

The study looked at the influence of both parents on offspring but found that men had little influence on their children's heart health in later life apart from the genes they passed on to them.

According to Dr Rohit Khurana, senior consultant cardiologist with The Harley Street Heart and Vascular Centre at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, told The New Paper: "While a pregnant woman's cardiovascular health (CVH) and lifestyle choices during pregnancy can affect her offspring's CVH, long-term CVH is also affected through parental behaviours and environmental influences.

"Children observe and acquire health behaviours within the family environment, with role modelling by primary caregivers being a significant contributor to children's long-term lifestyle choices.

"If primary caregivers, usually mothers, practise and instil a healthy lifestyle of balanced diets, regular exercise and minimal to zero alcohol and tobacco intake... their children are likely to continue those behaviours in adulthood.

"Those children will then pass good habits down to their children, thereby decreasing the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease) within families for generations."

He added: "The research shows that parents, particularly mothers, are the gatekeepers of their children's CVH during formative years, which influences adult life. Numerous studies have proved that good lifestyle choices are a greater determining factor compared with genetics when it comes to optimal CVH."

According to the study, CVD incidence rates were higher among sons than daughters, (with one reason being that) women are less likely to indulge in risky behaviours.

For example, according to the World Health Organisation, about 40 per cent of the world's male population smokes, compared with only 9 per cent of women, and men are almost twice as likely to binge drink as women.

Studies also show that women generally eat more healthily and consume more fruit and vegetables than men.

Finally, women develop CVD later in life, after menopause and typically in their 60s or older; so fewer of the female participants in the study had reached the age when we would expect to see signs of CVD.

Mothers are still the primary caretakers of young ones, with more direct daily influence on diet and behaviour than fathers. They are still more likely to be disciplining, providing emotional support and generally monitoring the daily activities of their children.

Taking good care of your CVH during pregnancy is important because the heart works harder by increasing the body's blood volume to support a growing baby.

If you are a diabetic, a smoker or have high blood pressure during pregnancy, each of these things makes it harder for your heart to pump extra blood throughout your circulatory system, increasing the likelihood of maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity.

This does not mean women with CVD risk factors should not get pregnant - it just means they should practise good preconception heart care including smoking cessation, cutting back on alcohol and weight management through regular exercise and a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre.

After women give birth, they should continue practising healthy behaviours at home as good examples to help children make positive choices, which become lifelong habits.

Telling children what to do will not always work as they need to see parents walk the talk.

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Sons of heart-healthy mums more likely to live 10 years longer: Study - The New Paper

Devious sperm ‘poison’ their rivals, forcing them to swim in circles until they die –

Some sperm cells are ruthless manipulators that will literally poison their competition in the race to fertilize an egg, new research shows.

In a study published Feb. 4 in the journal PLOS Genetics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) in Berlin studied mouse sperm cells under the microscope to better understand the effects of a particular DNA sequence known as the t-haplotype. The team knew from previous research that sperm cells carrying this sequence tend to swim straighter (rather than in circles of death) and faster on average than competing sperm without it.

Now, they've found that those highly-effective sperms' tactics are a little less than sportsmanly.

Related: The 7 biggest mysteries of the human body

"Sperm with the t-haplotype manage to disable sperm without it," study co-author Bernhard Herrmann, director at the MPIMG, said in a statement. "The trick is that the thaplotype 'poisons' all sperm, but at the same time produces an antidote, which acts only in t-sperm [those with the t-haplotype] and protects them."

The result, Herrmann said, is sort of like a marathon "in which all the participants get poisoned drinking water," but only some of the runners have access to the antidote.

The t-haplotype is a series of linked genes occupying chromosome 17 in house mice all over the world. (Unlike humans, who have 23 pairs of chromosomes, mice have only 20). Herrmann and other researchers have called it a "selfish" gene genetic material with a single mission: to make copies of itself. Because of the t-haplotype's ruthless effectiveness at passing from one generation to the next, according to the researchers, male mice carrying one copy of the t-haplotype will transmit it to up to 99% of their offspring.

After studying more than 100 mouse sperm cells, Herrmann and his colleagues learned more about the selfish haplotype's devious tactics. They found that the t-haplotype "poisons" all sperm cells during the early phases of sperm production, injecting every cell with certain genes that inhibit their ability to regulate movement.

It's not until a later phase, when each cell divides in half, that the "antidote" comes into play. After dividing, half of the sperm cells inherit the t-haplotype genes on chromosome 17. For those lucky sperm, the t-haplotype provides new genetic variants that reverse the inhibiting effects of the "poison" that every cell consumed during the previous phase of development.

For the other half of sperm cells, which don't carry the t-haplotype or its genetic "antidote," life becomes a lot harder. These poisoned cells have a lot more trouble moving in a straight line (an important skill for a cell whose only job is to race full-speed-ahead to an unfertilized egg). In their study, the researchers saw that many sperm without the antidote literally swam in circles until they died, while their t-haplotype competitors charged straight ahead.

"Our data highlight the fact that sperm cells are ruthless competitors," Herrmann said. "Genetic differences can give individual sperm an advantage in the race for life, thus promoting the transmission of particular gene variants to the next generation."

Originally published on Live Science.

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Devious sperm 'poison' their rivals, forcing them to swim in circles until they die -

Can we have an open debate about IQ, genes, and group differences? Reassessing the legacy of James Flynn – Genetic Literacy Project

I once spoke to a human geneticist who declared that the notion of intelligence was quite meaningless, so I tried calling him unintelligent. He was annoyed

Nobel Prize laureate, Peter Medawar

Of all the endless nature vs nurture arguments, the debate over intelligence and race is the most toxic. It also seeps over into wider unease with human genetic research; the fear, for example, that recent advances in ancient human DNA analysis can be used by those with nefarious intentions to resurrect problematic race folk theories.

Given this seeming potential for reviving damaging beliefs, some scholars question whether we would be better off to give up on particular lines of research in the human sciences, including the quest to trace patterns of human migration. Others, meanwhile, argue for tighter restrictions on research into cognitive differences between different human populations. That said, the impetus to explore our ancestral evolution and its impacts remains an essential scientific pursuit, as it is at the backbone of research exploring how human differences impact disease and potential targeted cures.

Such arguments about race, intelligence and possible censorship were of particular concern to US-born and educated New Zealand scientist and intelligence researcher James Flynn, who died in December 2020, aged 86. Flynn was the IQ debates great scholarly champion of environment over genes, known for his respectful rebuke of scholars who took a more deterministic view of the complex relationship of intelligence, genes, and the environment.

This century-long debate flared in 1969 following the publication of an article in the Harvard Educational Review, in which psychologist Arthur Jensen claimed that observed IQ differences between Blacks and Whites was due mainly to genetics. Jensen further argued for a reset on the poverty reforms that were then rolling out under the Johnson Administration, arguing that compensatory education programs that assumed racial groups were blank slates with environment alone the only detriment to equality of performanceHead Start, for examplewere destined to fail.

The article caused an uproar that still rages. Jensen, who died in 2012, was widely denounced as a racist, particularly in the popular press and by social scientists. Instead, Jensens critics maintained that environmental factors rather than genes passed along in ancestral cohorts almost entirely explained racial disparities in test scores, a radical environmentalist position that few hard scientists hold today.

This was also when the movement to end the use of IQ tests first emerged. Today, persistent differences in SAT or ACT results among races have been cited as a reason to stop using the exam in college admissions. Last May, many University of California colleges announced they was scrapping its SAT or ACT requirement, as have many other American universities.

Having migrated to New Zealand in 1963 to escape the political repression of the McCarthy era, Flynn, now based at the University of Otago in Dunedin, responded skeptically to Jensens claims. And understandably so. For instance, how could Jensen explain away Flynns voluminous documentation that IQ scores among racial and ethnic groups world-wide have risen considerably from one generation to the next? In the 20th century, Flynn discovered, the scores of entire countries rose by more than the Black-White disparity in the entire US. How could that be if IQ was genetically fixed? He summarized much of this research in a ground-breaking response to Jensen published in 1980.

In 1987,in an article in American Psychologist, Jensen praised Flynns criticism of his own work:

I am asked by colleagues, students, and journalists: who, in my opinion, are the most respectable critics of my position on the race-IQ issue? The name James R. Flynn is by far the first that comes to mind. His book,Race, IQ and Jensen(1980), is a distinguished contribution to the literature on this topic, and, among the critiques I have seen of my position, is virtually in a class by itself for objectivity, thoroughness, and scholarly integrity.

In a study released in 2006, Flynn and a co-author, William Dickens, concluded that Black Americans had gained as many as seven IQ points on Whites since the early 1970s and into the 1990s, a finding that is hard to explain if intelligence is genetically fixed. The theory that Flynn developed was dubbed The Flynn Effect by scholars Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray, co-authors of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life, the 1994 tome that faced similar harsh criticism as Jensens earlier expressed views.

In the decades since, numerous explanations of the Flynn effect have been proposed, as well as some skepticism about what has driven it and its implications. For example, there is intense debate about whether the rise in IQ scores corresponds to a rise in general intelligence or only a rise in special skills related to taking IQ tests, as schools have been turned into test-taking hot houses, in part because teacher salaries and administrative jobs are often tied to raising test scores.

Others argue that the Flynn Effects observed gains in IQ over time are unrelated tog (also known as general intelligence) that many psychometricians believe is a fairly unchangeable mental capacity. (g-scores are used in many professions to predict performance; e.g., the US military and even the National Football League, with its Wonderlic test, utilize g-weighted tests in their evaluations).

In parallel with the measured gains in IQ scores, long-term declines have been found for mental speed, digit span backwards, the use of difficult words, and color acuity, all of which are related to intelligence. More recently, the Flynn effect appears to be fading, as the IQ measure distance between some populations and others has grown. Research suggests that there is now a decline in IQ scores, in Norway, Denmark, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, France and German-speaking countries, a development which appears to have started in the 1990s. The Flynn effect appeared to have most influenced people born during the mid-1970s (co-incidentally a period of dramatic social transformation on racial issues), and has significantly declined ever since.

Flynn himself relished the debates that his research had stimulated. A life-long social democrat, he was outspoken in defence of free speech, including the right indeed, the desirability of open and honest debate on possible group differences in intelligence.

And this willingness to engage with those holding different opinions readily explains the reaction to news of Flynns death by his peers. Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, a sharp critic of blank slate post-modernist critical theory, immediately expressed sadness at the passing of a defender of Enlightenment ideals. Of particular note was the response of The Bell Curve co-author and conservative political scientist Charles Murray:

By Americas current standards of academic discourse, Jim Flynn and I should have been at each others throats, Murray said. We did in fact have different perspectives, though more nuanced than most people thought.

But those differences hadnt the slightest effect on Jims collegiality toward me or any of the people with whom he disagreed. How else are you going to learn, Jim thought, except by engaging with people who see things differently? Jim represented what a scholar is supposed to beopen, curious, passionate about his beliefs but without either self-righteousness or rancor, determined above all else to get it right.

Unfortunately, while scholars are supposed to be open and curious, much of the passion and argument over race and IQ has been self-righteous and rancorous. As Flynn himself readily acknowledged, those least open to discussion and most ready to censor opposing opinions, frequently came from his own leftist end of the political spectrum.

These were the ones, he argued, who boycott debate and put their money on indoctrination and intimidation, thereby forfeit[ing] a chance to persuade. (Here, Flynns position reflects characterizations of critical theory proponents that conservatives see as promoters of cancel culture.)

In his recent bestselling book, How to Argue With a Racist, geneticist Adam Rutherford emphasises the need to equip [people] with the scientific tools necessary to tackle questions on race, genes and ancestry and to provide a foundation to contest racism that appears to be grounded in science.

Jim Flynn, too, had long pointed to this danger that without an understanding of the scientific arguments, humane-egalitarian idealists would flounder against informed and articulate racists.

Censoring debate about the subject would then be doubly counter-productive, further removing the knowledge needed to challenge genuinely racist arguments or, more importantly, the political conclusions that arise from racist misinterpretations of human biological research.Thats the thrust of the argument made in GLP founders Jon Entine controversial but critically-praised book, 2000 Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We are Afraid to Talk About Them, in which he wrote:

Although discussing racial differences is likely to provoke strong reactions, on balance and in proper context strong emotions are healthy.

The why of human differencesblack/white, male/female, Italian/Irish, between Slavic ethnic groups or one African tribe and anotheris likely to remain only crudely measurable. Racemarked by skin color, ethnicity, and geographyis a fuzzy concept. The challenge is in whether we can conduct the debate so that human diversity might be cause for celebration of our individuality rather than fanning distrust.

In one of his last essays on this topic, Flynn re-emphasised what Those who want to forbid discussion and scientific investigation ignore, for instance, the ability to defend your position with facts rather than just right opinion and the opportunity to hone your argument by having its weaknesses revealed. [T]ruth gains vitality from being challenged rather than being an unquestioned inheritance, he argued.

To kill an idea is to forfeit all rewards that may flow from reaction to that idea. If I had not read about [research into group differences], with its emphasis on IQ and the general intelligence factor, I would never have documented massive IQ gain over time, or urged a revolution in the theory of intelligence, or connected cognitive gains and moral gains

In contrast to Flynn, those who argue against open discussion of contentious science fear it will breathe new life into socially harmful ideas, akin to publicising the details of how to build massively destructive bombs or to create deadly viruses. And on their side of the argument is the undeniable fact that past beliefs about racial superiority/inferiority caused incalculable harm.

Nevertheless, the analogy with socially destructive bombs and viruses implies that everyone, regardless of existing political beliefs or values, would suffer through public debate of sensitive issues. Yet is this really the case? If, for example, evidence of genetic differences between racial populations was more widely discussed, would this inevitably lead more people to become racists? We believe not; the egalitarian moral belief that people should be treated equally is not dependent on people actually being equal in all respects.

Of course, given the odious history of twisted interpretations of Darwinian theories of race, some form of use or abuse analysis of proposed research is warranted. As part of this, though, the detrimental consequences of creating taboos on discussion must also be taken into account (for instance, conceding the argument to racist ideologues who may present themselves as simply telling the unpalatable truth that others are too scared to discuss).

In the absence of a scientifically accurate account of racial diversity, we cannot adequately challenge pseudo-scientific racist arguments. In addition, avoiding discussion of human biological diversity may limit our understanding of the genetic basis of disease and hamper medical research that could improve peoples lives.

The problem here is egalitarians tying their political values to actual facts about human biology; the mistaken belief that moral equality is dependent on all people being biologically or psychologically the same. Yet as Pinker argued in The Blank Slate: The modern denial of human nature, when scientific evidence appears to conflict with political values, people are tempted to suppress the facts and to clamp down on debate leav[ing] us unequipped to deal with just those problems for which new facts and analyses are most needed.

Geneticist David Reich has made much the same point about those who decry genetic research into human diversity as inherently racist. The well-meaning people who deny likely genetic differences between different human populations, Reich suggested, are digging themselves into an indefensible position, one that will not survive the onslaught of science.

And Flynn too emphasises where attempts at censorship miss their mark: Suppressing free inquiry is by its nature an expressive of contempt for truth by power. The truth can never be racist.

With regard to intelligence research, far from being massively destructive, such studies could, in future, prove hugely beneficial, especially in education. Without a clear understanding of human cognitive development, and how it is determined by both genes and environment, we are hamstrung in our attempts to improve an existing education system that persistently frustrates so many. Indeed, by ignoring the biological side of the interplay between genes and environment, we may be simply setting up many young people to fail, generation after generation. Those promoting practical uses of personal genomics, for instance, see the potential for tailoring education to reflect the needs and the abilities of individual learners, rather than forcing all learners into a one-size-fits-all system.

As for Flynn, he admitted to having no illusions that the debate over race and IQ will end.

And I do not deny that it could have social and political consequences. Perhaps someday we will conclude that a portion of the present gap will prove to be genetic in origin. I do not want to sugar the pill but will only say I am not too alarmed.

Yet even if the worst case scenario of ineluctable differences in cognitive ability proved to be the case (which is far from certain), this does not destroy the humane-egalitarian desire to create a better future society. After all, if everyone had a decent standard of living, much of the heat linking biology with racial inequality would fade a point Flynn illustrated with joking reference to his own Irish ancestry:

Assume that the lower job profile of Irish Americans compared to Chinese Americans is due in part to genes: I do not know one Irishman who cares (the English would be a different matter).

For the first time in history science, promises a glimpse of how the worlds different populations popularly and simplistically called races have evolved. Going forward, the tsunami of information genetic research is now unlocking will revolutionize medicine, as we develop targeted, personalized response to diseases based on individual and group inheritance. Research on the brain is just part of that mostly-promising and optimistic enterprise.

In his reflections on Human Diversity, a book that came out shortly before Flynns death, Charles Murray pointedly suggested that many of those most opposed to research on the brain and IQ mistakenly equate human intelligence with human worth. Thats understandable. With these caveats in mind, it is perhaps fitting here to leave the last word to Murray, Flynns supposed great adversary: in losing Jim Flynn, he says, We have lost an exemplar.

Disclosure: James Flynn was the external examiner of Patrick Whittles PhD thesis, looking at the implications of human evolutionary theory for egalitarian political ideas.

Patrick Whittle has a PhD in philosophy and is a New Zealand-based freelance writer with an interest in the social and political implications of biological science. Follow him on his website or on Twitter @WhittlePM

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Can we have an open debate about IQ, genes, and group differences? Reassessing the legacy of James Flynn - Genetic Literacy Project