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Archive for the ‘Longevity Genetics’ Category

Study of More Than 1 Million People Finds Intriguing Link Between Iron Levels And Lifespan – ScienceAlert

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

A massive study published in 2020 found evidence that blood iron levels could play a role in influencing how long you live.

It's always important to take longevity studies with a big grain of salt, but the research was impressive in its breadth, covering genetic information from well over 1 million people across three public databases. It also focused on three key measures of ageing: lifespan, years lived free of disease (referred to as healthspan), and making it to an extremely old age (AKA longevity).

Throughout the analysis, 10 key regions of the genome were shown to be related to these measures of long life, as were gene sets linked to how the body metabolises iron.

Put simply, having too much iron in the blood appeared to be linked to an increased risk of dying earlier.

"We are very excited by these findings as they strongly suggest that high levels of iron in the blood reduces our healthy years of life, and keeping these levels in check could prevent age-related damage," said data analyst Paul Timmers, from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

"We speculate that our findings on iron metabolism might also start to explain why very high levels of iron-rich red meat in the diet has been linked to age-related conditions such as heart disease."

While correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, the researchers used a statistical technique called Mendelian randomisation to reduce bias and attempt to infer causation in the data.

As the researchers noted, genetics are thought to have around a 10 percent influence on lifespan and healthspan, and that can make it difficult to pick out the genes involved from all the other factors involved (like your smoking or drinking habits). With that in mind, one of the advantages of this new study is its sheer size and scope.

Five of the genetic markers the researchers found had not previously been highlighted as significant at the genome-wide level. Some, including APOE and FOXO3, have been singled out in the past as being important to the ageing process and human health.

"It is clear from the association of age-related diseases and the well-known ageing loci APOE and FOXO3 that we are capturing the human ageing process to some extent," wrote the researchers in their paper published in July 2020.

While we're still in the early stages for investigating this association with iron metabolism, further down the line we could see the development of drugs designed to lower the levels of iron in the blood - which could potentially add extra years to our lives.

Besides genetics, blood iron is mostly controlled by diet and has already been linked to a number of age-related diseases, including Parkinson's and liver disease. It also affects our body's ability to fight off infection as we get older.

We can add this latest study to the growing evidence that 'iron overload', or not being able to break it down properly, can have an influence on how long we're likely to live, as well as how healthy we're likely to be in our later years.

"Our ultimate aim is to discover how ageing is regulated and find ways to increase health during ageing," says Joris Deelenwho studies the biology of ageing at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing in Germany.

"The 10 regions of the genome we have discovered that are linked to lifespan, healthspan, and longevity are all exciting candidates for further studies."

The research has been published in Nature Communications.

A version of this article was first published in July 2020.

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Study of More Than 1 Million People Finds Intriguing Link Between Iron Levels And Lifespan - ScienceAlert

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Hereford Thrives in an Uncertain Year – AG INFORMATION NETWORK OF THE WEST – AGInfo Ag Information Network Of The West

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

In a year that was anything but predictable, one constant held fast: Americas farmers and ranchers and, among them, Hereford breeders.

In this year-end report from the American Hereford Association (AHA), we learn how Hereford cattlemen and women grew the breed through 2020.

Despite the unforeseen challenges of 2020, AHA Executive Vice President Jack Ward says Hereford breeders and the American Hereford Association continued to add value to Hereford genetics. Year-end reports shared during the Associations recent annual meeting show their efforts paid off.

"As the commercial industry has looked to add crossbreeding back into the programs to increase fertility, longevity, disposition all the things that are known in Hereford cattle its created a great opportunity for us said Ward.

Ward reports the Association experienced increases in registrations and memberships this fiscal year, while sale averages climbed.

The real excitement within our breed and within our membership is in its growth" said Ward. "Its seen growth because the breeders have been committed to genetic improvement and providing the tools necessary to make the changes to produce the type of product that their customers need and then, ultimately, the consumer. So its all encompassing.

Learn more from the American Hereford Associations virtual educational sessions and 2020 annual meeting at Hereford.org.

Youll find a series of highlights, including the presentation of more than $150,000 in scholarships, as well as breed honorees and other Hereford news. Virtual educational sessions are also available and cover topics from genomics to marketing.

Source: American Hereford Association

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Covid-19 Update Precision Medicine Software market: Poised to Garner Maximum Revenues by 2027 with major key players in the market Syapse, Allscripts,…

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

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The New Anti-Ageing: How the pandemic unlocked new ways to lower your biological age – Telegraph.co.uk

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

While most scientists look at Covid-19 as a viral respiratory illness, Nir Barzilai takes a slightly different perspective. Instead Barzilai, founder of the Institute of Ageing Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, sees it as a disease of ageing.

The grim statistics show that he has a point. In Europe, people over 60 have accounted for 90% of fatalities since the start of August. While the impact of Covid-19 has been universal, older people have been disproportionally affected.

This virus has no eyes, but it could see immediately who is old and more vulnerable, says Barzilai.

For Barzilai and other geroscientists scientists who study the biology of ageing this represents an opportunity. They have long argued that we need a different perspective for tackling many chronic diseases, from cancer to Alzheimers. As all of these illnesses become more common with age, geroscientists have suggested that therapies attempting to reverse some of the cellular mechanisms of ageing, might make older individuals more resilient to a whole range of diseases.

The premise of this approach is that while we typically measure age chronologically, the number of years we have been alive, your biological age says far more about your health. Biological age is indicated through various biomarkers ranging from the length of telomeres the tips of chromosomes to changes in DNA expression, and even your gut microbiome.

Some 55-year-olds may be biologically equivalent to 45, making them more resilient to disease, while others may be far older, due to lifestyle or genetics.

Since the 1930s, scientists have identified certain drugs which appear capable of reversing biological ageing in mice. Over the past nine months, the pandemic has provided increasing evidence they may be capable of doing the same in humans. Covid has moved anti-ageing from hope to promise, says Barzilai. The promise is that ageing is flexible, and can be manipulated, is something weve shown again and again in animals.

Geroscientists have defined eight hallmarks of biological ageing, which when targeted can improve health and lifespan in animals. These hallmarks range from declining immune function, to a decrease in the quality and quantity of mitochondria the energy factories of our cells and an impaired ability of cells to perform garbage disposal and remove toxins or viruses.

There are drugs which can target some hallmarks of ageing, including resveratrol - a compound found naturally in foods such as blueberries but the impact of Covid-19 has sparked particular interest in a cheap, commonly available medication called metformin, which has been used to treat diabetes for over fifty years, due to its ability to lower glucose levels. But recently, epidemiologists have begun to notice people taking it for diabetes also appeared to have reduced rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

When the pandemic began, an early study from a hospital in Wuhan sparked particular interest. It showed diabetics taking metformin were much less likely to die of Covid-19 than diabetics not on the drug. Geroscientists around the world took note.

Because of the number of people contracting Covid-19, we could gather data on metformin and its impact on reducing mortality, which would otherwise have taken years to collect, says Vadim Gladyshev, a biochemist at Harvard Medical School.

Soon, further studies yielded similar findings. Doctors at the University of Minnesota found metformin lowered mortality rates across more than 6,000 Covid-19 patients with diabetes, albeit only in women.

Barzilai believes he understands why. In a paper published earlier this year, he showed that metformin targets all eight hallmarks of ageing at the same time. Now, this accumulation of evidence has helped convince investors to provide $75 million in funding for a landmark randomised control trial called TAME.

Intended to begin in June 2021, it aims to see whether giving metformin to older people for four to five years, can give them more years of good health. If this proves successful, it could see metformin licensed by regulators as the worlds first clinically proven anti-ageing therapy.

In April, Edwin Lam, a pharmacologist at Thomas Jefferson University, was looking at AI-based predictions of potential Covid-19 treatments and found a drug called rapamycin ranked higher than many highly touted alternatives.

Rapamycin is currently used to prevent organ transplant rejection, but geroscientists have been interested in its effects on longevity for decades. It specifically targets a pathway called mTOR, a major driver of many of the cell degradation processes that occur with ageing. Because rapamycin inhibits mTOR, it can help reactivate different parts of the immune system, making them behave like a younger person.

Boston-based biotech company resTORbio have previously shown that forms of rapamycin can reduce rates of respiratory infections in over 65s. They are now conducting a clinical trial in the US, looking at whether giving rapamycin to nursing home residents on a daily basis, could protect them from becoming severely infected with Covid-19. If successful, it could pave the way for rapamycin becoming a new treatment for protecting older people from seasonal infections, and future viral outbreaks.

The renewed interest in biological ageing as a result of Covid-19, could also yield benefits for other diseases linked to the ageing process, in particular Alzheimers. For years, pharma companies have attempted to develop treatments which target the accumulation of amyloid proteins in the brain during the course of the disease.

With Covid-19 increasing the spotlight on how ageing makes people more vulnerable to disease, Alzheimers scientists have begun to consider alternative approaches. I think neurologists are becoming more open to the idea that we have been too insensitive to the ageing context in which Alzheimers occurs, says Jeffrey Cummings, professor of neurology at UCLA. Most patients have the onset of their disease in their 80s, where you get this accumulation of multiple adverse influences on cognitive function.

One particular clue about how to prevent this accumulation may lie in our DNA. As we age, telomeres become shorter, leading to a variety of cell changes. However, in 1984 biologists Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider discovered an enzyme produced in cells called telomerase which naturally prevents telomere shortening, a finding which won them the 2009 Nobel Prize.

Telomerase levels also decline with age, but in recent years pharma companies have begun to wonder whether artificially boosting telomerase through drugs, could prevent age-related diseases.

Seoul-based pharma company GemVax have developed a product named GV1001 which boosts telomerase levels in cells, with the aim of seeing whether it can prevent decline in Alzheimers patients and prevent the onset of the disease altogether. In a recent Phase II clinical trial of moderate to severe Alzheimers patients, they reported promising results on an assessment tool called the severe impairment battery (SIB) scale. The results exceeded our expectations, said Jay Sangjae Kim, chairman of GemVax.

With the major test a Phase III trial which is set to get underway in 2021 still to come, the results must be viewed cautiously, but the success of GV1001 has the potential to yield a new frontier of telomerase based drugs for age related diseases.

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The New Anti-Ageing: How the pandemic unlocked new ways to lower your biological age - Telegraph.co.uk

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A Good Age: Auld lang syne to the eldest who inspired and entertained us – The Patriot Ledger

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Sue Scheible|The Patriot Ledger

QUINCY -- Dorothy "Dot" Cole was a reluctant interview at the age of 98 in 2016. "The only time you belong in thenewspaper is for your obituary," she said. "No one wants to hear you bragging about yourself before that."

I was fortunate to be able to coax a few stories out of Dot,a charmer who was still working from the home in Weymouth where she had lived her entire life. After that, she wouldn't talk to me again when she reached age 100. Dot would have turned 102on Christmas Day this year but died Dec. 10 at home. Her obituary gave her arepeat appearance in the paper where she recapped the facts of her life.

At the opposite end of the publicity spectrum of remarkable elders I have met was the irrepressible Ruth Kundsin of Quincy, a "Let's go for it" interview subject from the start. Tipped off by her friends,I wrote about her becoming a centenarian in 2016 and followed her each year after. She surprised and delighted readers and drew national attention:at age 103 she was working out with herpersonal trainer Dick Raymond weekly at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy

She kept that regimen up until this year, when at 104 she decided enough was enough in July. She was working on a book about her pioneering professional life as a microbiologistwhen shedied at home on Thanksgiving Day, family and friends by her side. Ruth was anAssociate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Emerita, at Harvard Medical School. Her groundbreaking research on airborne pathogensled to important changes in hospital and operating room protocols.

Turning 104, Ruth Kundsin of Quincy tells it like it is

As retired microbiologist Ruth Kundsin turns 104, she wonders if it's time to stop her workouts with a personal trainer at the South Shore YMCA.

Sue Scheible, The Patriot Ledger

In May, the legendary Mary Pratt of Quincy died at age 101 after a long and illustrious career teaching physical education and fighting for the rights of women in sports. In 1943, Pratt became a pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

She was one of the first members of the Rockford Peaches,the team featured in the movie "A League of Their Own."

As a youngster, she loved playing ball with the boys in her Connecticut neighborhood. Her family moved to Quincy; she graduated from North Quincy Highand attended Sargent College of Physical Education at Boston University.

At age 24, Pratt was scouted for the brand new All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She played ball for five years, returned to Quincy and was passionate about teaching physical educationfor 48 years, including three in Braintree and 42 in Quincy.

She became a passionate fighterfor new opportunities for women in sports and more leadership positions.

When Pratt was in her 90s, she moved to 1000 Southern Artery senior housing in Quincy. Herneighbors included some of her former students who knew her as their gym teacher in grade school.Helen Colette, 80, was walking through the lounge one day when she spotted that familiar face from the past.Colette was standing with her hands in her pockets when Mary sized her up and said approvingly, Look at her, standing so tall and nice and straight. Her shoulders match her hips and her hips match her ankles.

Another effervescent phenom was Agnes Mullay of Quincy, who died in Aprilthree weeks after her 108th birthday at Alliance Health at Marina Bay Nursing Center. She hadloved to sit in the lobby and greet people.At 4-foot-8, she was a tiny woman with a rich chuckle and sparkling smile.

A less visible but equally large loss was that of Shirley Bartlett of Weymouth, who was 93, had survived COVID, recovered and then died last summer.Shirley had a large circle of friends, was an aunt, great-aunt, and great-great-aunt to many nieces and nephews. She belonged to the Weymouth Newcomers Club, the Castle Island Association,participated in choral groups and line dancing and sang at nursing homes.

It is such aprivilege to have met and interviewed these and other South Shore elders and to have heard their stories. They have shared their secrets and ways of adjusting to long life with wisdom and a positiveperspective.They remain present in our memories,their achievements and their stories.

In the weeks ahead, we'll catch up with others who continue to lead the way in longevity.

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A Good Age: Auld lang syne to the eldest who inspired and entertained us - The Patriot Ledger

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Survival Of The Kindest: A New Mantra To Rebuild The Global Economy – Forbes

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Lessons from nature may hold deeper insights into how to build back a more resilient and kinder ... [+] economic system

That our current global economic system is broken is no surprise. The question is where to turn to for hope. New insights from nature may provide the answer.

The "Fearless Girl" statue, a four-foot statue of a young girl, defiantly looks up the iconic Wall ... [+] Street "Charging Bull" sculpture in New York City

Underlying economic injustices have been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic. Historically underrepresented groups have all fared worse off over the past 12 months since the outbreak of the virus. A younger generation now faces a historic amount of debt, similar to having faced a World War, in addition to the challenges of irreversible climate change and global biodiversity collapse.

24 Feb 2020: Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani (L) added $18 billion to his wealth during the ... [+] pandemic, as Microsoft value rose by almost $500 billion in 2020. Seen here with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R)

A closer examination of this growing inequality reveals just how fragile current economic structures have become, with social unrest bubbling just under the surface in many countries around the world. As hundreds of millions continue to face prolonged lockdowns, higher health risks, lost schooling, mass unemployment and economic ruin, ten billionaires alone saw their wealth increase by $450 billion during the pandemic. The wealthiest 2000 billionaires in the world saw their assets hit new highs, increasing toover $10 trillion in value. An economic system with such disparities, that rewards those with access to capital, is not sustainable.

Political leaders around the world performed poorly in responding to the coronavirus crisis (Bill Gates questioned whether any country merited an A grade for their response).

A new Covid-19 stimulus plan was signed by President Trump at the end of 2020

These very same political leaders (many of whom are increasingly authoritarian) are now using taxpayer funds or future borrowing to roll out multi-trillion dollar pandemic stimulus packages around the world. Rather than coordinating such a financial injection to ensure a global economy is rebuilt in a way that is more just, equitable, innovative and harmonious with nature, the world is seeing a fragmented patchwork of short term, reactive measures that do not address the structural faults in the global economy, or appear to be coordinated in any way to address global systemic risks.

The multi-trillion dollar opportunity is being squandered, and history shows that this will be an expensive mistake.

There are small windows in history when human value systems shift so fundamentally in a short period of time that the entire economic system is forever altered after such crises. In several instances, these shifts in human values have improved the state of the world. For example:

Slavery abolished by mid-1850s

Eleanor Roosevelt and 'The Universal Declaration of Human Rights'

U.S. Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. ... [+]

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is pictured during a "Fridays for Future" protest in front ... [+] of the Swedish Parliament Riksdagen in Stockholm on October 9, 2020.

The last decade has seen a regression of much of the progress of the 20th century as inequality of opportunity has risen around the world. The international responses to the 2008 and 2011 financial crises were wasted, as the then $1 trillion stimulus packages coordinated via the E.U., G20, World Bank and IMF ended up recreating existed cleavages in society, which were already unsustainable, as a decade of austerity eroded critical social safety nets around the world.

With social cohesion breaking down and irreversible climate change soon upon us, the time for timid steps are over.

A strong articulation of which values will need to change is needed to build a more robust ... [+] post-pandemic economy

Building back better must mean that the means should justify the ends. There cannot be a rush toward more a sustainable economy that create new green monopolies. The growth must be inclusive.

The core to building back a better economic system will require the architects of the post-pandemic economic order to come to terms with a foundational error in science from 150 years ago, that continues to plague the global economy today.

It is to do with a fundamental misunderstanding of the natural world, which led to the birth of modern economic thinking. It is this system of incentives that now define the winners and losers of the global economic system, including its impact on the society and the environment.

Advances today in molecular biology and advanced genetics are revealing new insights into how misguided this science was 150 years ago, and the profound implications for how the economic system can be redesigned.

Charles Darwin, English naturalist, wrote the first unifying theory of evolution

In 1859, a 48-year old Charles Darwin famously completed his iconic book the On the Origin of Species, after travelling the world on a scientific expedition on board The Beagle. Origin of Species became the seminal work that provided a unifying theory for evolution and natural selection for the first time. Indeed, the full title of the book was, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. It became the predominant doctrine of many leading thinkers of the time such as Alfred Wallace and Thomas Malthus.

At the core, was an assumption that there were winners and losers in evolution. This led to the term the Survival of the Fittest to explain who the winners of evolution were. This process was termed Natural Selection.

The notion of a Natural Selection of winners was swiftly taken up by researchers at the time as the lens through which to study nature, wildlife and biology. European biologists were captivated by the notion that brutal forces of nature defined that only the fittest or most selfish would survive. Darwins work led to a unifying-theory of a well-structured biological pecking order, explained by a simplified and precise mathematical formula that defined the position of each species, with the most powerful on top. It was very Victorian England.

A lion epitomizing 'survival of the fittest' against a zebra

Nothing exemplified this more than the imagery of the powerful, carnivorous lion chasing its herbivorous prey across the plains of Africa. A process of natural selection would determine which species would be at the top of the food chain, a product of what skills they needed to survive over thousands of years of evolution. Those at the top of these biological pyramids could expect to die of old age, whereas life for other creatures lower down would be brutal, short and defined by constantly being on their guard.

Although a fringe notion at the time in the 1860s, it would take another seventy years for Darwins theories of evolution, natural selection and the survival of the fittest to become mainstream by the 1930s.

This theory of natural selection explained by the concept of survival of the fittest then went on to dominate scientific thinking for the next 100 years through to today.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt endorses New Deal candidates during a radio broadcast from his Hyde ... [+] Park home. | Location: Hyde Park, New York, USA.

Darwins theories originated in evolutionary biology, but soon infused itself into the leading economic, social and political thinkers of the time.

In the fervent first three decades at the start of the 20th century with a World War, a Spanish Flu pandemic, a Great Depression and New Deal Recovery, economists and political scientists were searching for new unifying economic theories to find an alternative economic models than one of dominant robber baron monopolies built during the modern industrial revolutions of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Darwins ideas around survival of the fittest soon fit in well with notions of what was seen as a natural order for business, economics and the social sciences.

The New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street epitomizes the aggressive form of shareholder capitalism ... [+] that drives the global economy today

Iterations of this brutal winner rises to the top world became core to business and economic thinking over the course of the twentieth century. This mantra defined internal working cultures within companies, competition regulations, and core decision-making at the very top of corporations where the Board of Directors had a disproportionate say over the direction of a company, overriding concerns from employees, the environment, suppliers, and the local community. It was a scarcity mindset where there was only room on top for just a handful of organizations or leaders. Relatively little effort was made to invest in alternative, more collaborative business models or ecosystems.

It was a way of thinking that valued competition above collaboration, selfishness above empathy, aggression above pacifism.

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 19, 2020, at ... [+] Wall Street in New York City.

For over a century, it was believed that only the most self-serving businesses or leaders (usually alpha-male) should be allowed to survive. The thinking was that this would create a fitter and more robust economic system as a whole. Even if every decade, the list of most valuable businesses may change as different sectors reached their zenith, there was faith that shareholder capitalism would lead to a better outcome for society. GDP and market capitalization became the new Gods.

However, what it ended up creating was a more brutal version of business. One where quarterly results trumped all decision-making within a company. Business executives would do anything to hit quarterly targets. Other stakeholders (customers, employees, suppliers, the environmental, the local community) were given significantly lower weight, and were usually seen as marketing gimmicks.

Facebook has been seen catering more to shareholder interest than that of its users

Even companies whose humble origins once gave hope that such a system could be upended - companies like Google and Facebook - have now become the poster children for this winner takes all business model. Just as banks were too big to fail a decade ago, Big Techs dominance has created major weaknesses in modern economic and social systems. The pursuit of quarterly profits mean that efforts such as ethical A.I. or ensuring full external oversight of operations, were scaled back.

For national economies to build back better, this broken model of shareholder capitalism has to be fundamentally addressed as part of any stimulus package.

It requires re-evaluating what Survival of the Fittest means.

Emperor Penguin chicks in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica.

In recent years, new advancements in molecular biology and DNA technology have fundamentally challenged Darwins thinking and inferences on natural selection.

It has allowed biologists to go further and deeper in their understanding of evolution, and question whether natural selection really was due to a survival of the fittest. Indeed, it questioned what fittest actually meant.

Studying fossils, ancient DNA and using large datasets and machine learning to develop unprecedented insights, scientists have been able to peer back through deep time to see when various species started to evolve along the tree of life.

Scientists are making new discoveries about evolution, using new techniques of big data and machine ... [+] learning to peer further into each species' evolution and genetic code

A search through deep time reveals that species that have survived the longest are ones that live in groups, have symbiotic relationships with other species and who behave kindly within the communities that they live in. This completely flips on its head some of thinking from 150 years ago that only humans had higher faculties of intelligence, empathy and peaceful co-existence in group settings.

Taking these learnings from nature and transplanting them into our current economic systems has fundamental implications for how to build back better and the sorts of institutions that will be needed. Lets first understand the science behind Survival of the Kindest.

It turns out that species that live in groups - whether herds, shoals or flocks - tended to have survived as a species for longer than those that are more solitary.

Herd animals have been found to have evolved and survived for longer than many apex predators like ... [+] lions

Hammerhead sharks evolved 20 million years ago, less than half the time than bluefin tuna

A British Used Postage Stamp Showing Portrait of Charles Darwin and Finches, depicting his Theory of ... [+] Evolution

Charles Darwin did not have the ability to study the deep genetics of species when writing Origin of Species. Otherwise, he may have concluded the importance of a community surviving, rather than individual animals.

A more recent and deeper understanding of wildlife has revealed how dependent many species are on symbiotic relationships. The survival of one is highly dependent on the existence of another species. This is not an extractive, food-dependency, but one where the presence of both species working in harmony leads to flourishing communities growing.

Here are some notable examples:

Coral reefs are the one of earths most complex ecosystems, containing over 800 species of corals and ... [+] one million animal and plant species.

Oceanic whitetip shark with Pilot Fish swims under sea surface in the open sea, Red Sea, Egypt

Meerkat family on lookout

So collaboration - rather than competition - with different animals is critical to the survival of both species. Certain species have even developed evolutionary traits (such as the rear legs of the urchin crab) to take into account this symbiotic relationship with other species. Again, these were observations that Charles Darwin was unable to take as he rushed around the world taking observations of plants, animals and fossils he could see in the time he had available.

Frans de Waal's work has been published as New York Times bestsellers

Some of the most seminal work on animal intelligence and animal empathy has been done by Frans de Waal of Emory University. His detailed studies of chimpanzees and other Great Apes have revealed previously unrecognized behavioral patterns in animals where kindness and collaboration are rewarded in communities in which they live.

This reward structure means that apes that demonstrate the greatest empathy and collaboration often receive the highest rewards. Also chimpanzees given a free choice between helping only themselves or helping themselves plus a partner, prefer the latter.

This flips on the head the notion that nature is selfish, brutish and short for animals compared with human existence. It has given rise to an entire new field of study for morality grounded in biology, centered around values of cooperation,altruism, and fairness.

The complex and collaborative societal structures of apes are only just being understood

Such research is challenging some of the root causes of natural selection and the simplistic reasoning behind Survival of the Fittest.

As such knowledge is being revealed, it raises the question whether a new theory is needed to explain natural selection over deep time.

Perhaps it is less Survival of the Fittest and more Survival of the Kindest.

Could Survival of the Kindest be a new organizing principle for the post-pandemic economic order?

Taking this new understanding from biology into our economic systems, opens up radically new possibilities.

These new possibilities challenge the current orthodoxy that business systems should only incentivize strong corporations that seek to defeat competition, maximize corporate behavior that is self-serving and diminish the responsibility to other stakeholders (such as customers, suppliers, workers, the environment, the community) in order to only satisfy only one stakeholder - the shareholders as represented by a Board of Directors.

If kindness becomes an attribute that is core to how a business or economic system is evaluated, a different form of organization may emerge. An organization that sees their duty as performing a societal duty, much like a village market or local neighborhood grocery store performs. An organization that seeks to serve in a more balanced way rather than aggressively extract value from others in its ecosystem.

Senate Hearings in July 2020 call upon Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (top, C), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ... [+] (top, R), Google CEO Sundar Pichai (bottom, L), and Apple CEO Tim Cook on the dominance of technology companies

Advances in technology (such as open source software) has opened up new and innovative collaborative business models that could create more symbiotic corporate relationships with a wider ranger of participants, rather than the natural monopolies that the tech giants of the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon AMZN , Apple AAPL , Netflix NFLX , Google GOOG , Microsoft MSFT ) have created.

Survival of the Kindest will take a new form of regulatory mindset, as well as leadership mindset at every level of an organization. It means a fundamental evaluation of what kindness means, and how this value can be demonstrated toward a customer, an employee, a supplier and the environment.

Unity and diversity partnership as heart hands in a group of diverse people connected together ... [+] shaped as a support symbol expressing the feeling of teamwork and togetherness.

Creating an economic system that rewards kindness over power, may start to right the injustice and fragility with the current economic model. If it is the key to longevity for many species in deep time, there may be valuable lessons for the way that humans should be thinking about organizing society.

It may also require a new set of systems thinkers in Board Rooms and among regulators to start to rethink how the global economy needs to be built back. Getting thinkers who operate the current to imagine a radically different future is akin to asking a lion to design a system that would better suit healthy gazelle populations.

Those who have demonstrated such kindness may be the most credible role models to start that reconstruction. It will take a different sort of organizational muscle and diverse talent to build such kinder organizations, but one that is not that hard to find if one knows where and how to look.

Baby elephant showing affection to it's mother on the Masai Mara in Kenya

The extension from biology to political-economy seem may appear far-fetched, but as the economic system stretches further and further into the natural world, there are more connections than may immediately be imagined. And advances in science and technology are revealing just how little we truly understand about ourselves and the planet.

It is clear the world needs to move beyond the pithy slogans of build back green, and build back better, into something more substantive.

Perhaps this starts with Building back Kinder.

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Survival Of The Kindest: A New Mantra To Rebuild The Global Economy - Forbes

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The Nashville bombing suspect sent packages to people across the country containing typed conspiracy theories about September 11 and lizard people,…

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

The Telegraph

While most scientists look at Covid-19 as a viral respiratory illness, Nir Barzilai takes a slightly different perspective. Instead Barzilai, founder of the Institute of Ageing Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, sees it as a disease of ageing. The grim statistics show that he has a point. In Europe, people over 60 have accounted for 90% of fatalities since the start of August. While the impact of Covid-19 has been universal, older people have been disproportionally affected. This virus has no eyes, but it could see immediately who is old and more vulnerable, says Barzilai. For Barzilai and other geroscientists scientists who study the biology of ageing this represents an opportunity. They have long argued that we need a different perspective for tackling many chronic diseases, from cancer to Alzheimers. As all of these illnesses become more common with age, geroscientists have suggested that therapies attempting to reverse some of the cellular mechanisms of ageing, might make older individuals more resilient to a whole range of diseases. The premise of this approach is that while we typically measure age chronologically, the number of years we have been alive, your biological age says far more about your health. Biological age is indicated through various biomarkers ranging from the length of telomeres the tips of chromosomes to changes in DNA expression, and even your gut microbiome. Some 55-year-olds may be biologically equivalent to 45, making them more resilient to disease, while others may be far older, due to lifestyle or genetics. Since the 1930s, scientists have identified certain drugs which appear capable of reversing biological ageing in mice. Over the past nine months, the pandemic has provided increasing evidence they may be capable of doing the same in humans. Covid has moved anti-ageing from hope to promise, says Barzilai. The promise is that ageing is flexible, and can be manipulated, is something weve shown again and again in animals. The eight hallmarks of ageing Geroscientists have defined eight hallmarks of biological ageing, which when targeted can improve health and lifespan in animals. These hallmarks range from declining immune function, to a decrease in the quality and quantity of mitochondria the energy factories of our cells and an impaired ability of cells to perform garbage disposal and remove toxins or viruses. There are drugs which can target some hallmarks of ageing, including resveratrol a compound found naturally in foods such as blueberries but the impact of Covid-19 has sparked particular interest in a cheap, commonly available medication called metformin, which has been used to treat diabetes for over fifty years, due to its ability to lower glucose levels. But recently, epidemiologists have begun to notice people taking it for diabetes also appeared to have reduced rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. When the pandemic began, an early study from a hospital in Wuhan sparked particular interest. It showed diabetics taking metformin were much less likely to die of Covid-19 than diabetics not on the drug. Geroscientists around the world took note. Because of the number of people contracting Covid-19, we could gather data on metformin and its impact on reducing mortality, which would otherwise have taken years to collect, says Vadim Gladyshev, a biochemist at Harvard Medical School. Soon, further studies yielded similar findings. Doctors at the University of Minnesota found metformin lowered mortality rates across more than 6,000 Covid-19 patients with diabetes, albeit only in women. Barzilai believes he understands why. In a paper published earlier this year, he showed that metformin targets all eight hallmarks of ageing at the same time. Now, this accumulation of evidence has helped convince investors to provide $75 million in funding for a landmark randomised control trial called TAME. Intended to begin in June 2021, it aims to see whether giving metformin to older people for four to five years, can give them more years of good health. If this proves successful, it could see metformin licensed by regulators as the worlds first clinically proven anti-ageing therapy. AI recommendations In April, Edwin Lam, a pharmacologist at Thomas Jefferson University, was looking at AI-based predictions of potential Covid-19 treatments and found a drug called rapamycin ranked higher than many highly touted alternatives. Rapamycin is currently used to prevent organ transplant rejection, but geroscientists have been interested in its effects on longevity for decades. It specifically targets a pathway called mTOR, a major driver of many of the cell degradation processes that occur with ageing. Because rapamycin inhibits mTOR, it can help reactivate different parts of the immune system, making them behave like a younger person. Boston-based biotech company resTORbio have previously shown that forms of rapamycin can reduce rates of respiratory infections in over 65s. They are now conducting a clinical trial in the US, looking at whether giving rapamycin to nursing home residents on a daily basis, could protect them from becoming severely infected with Covid-19. If successful, it could pave the way for rapamycin becoming a new treatment for protecting older people from seasonal infections, and future viral outbreaks. New hope for Alzheimers The renewed interest in biological ageing as a result of Covid-19, could also yield benefits for other diseases linked to the ageing process, in particular Alzheimers. For years, pharma companies have attempted to develop treatments which target the accumulation of amyloid proteins in the brain during the course of the disease. With Covid-19 increasing the spotlight on how ageing makes people more vulnerable to disease, Alzheimers scientists have begun to consider alternative approaches. I think neurologists are becoming more open to the idea that we have been too insensitive to the ageing context in which Alzheimers occurs, says Jeffrey Cummings, professor of neurology at UCLA. Most patients have the onset of their disease in their 80s, where you get this accumulation of multiple adverse influences on cognitive function. One particular clue about how to prevent this accumulation may lie in our DNA. As we age, telomeres become shorter, leading to a variety of cell changes. However, in 1984 biologists Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider discovered an enzyme produced in cells called telomerase which naturally prevents telomere shortening, a finding which won them the 2009 Nobel Prize. Telomerase levels also decline with age, but in recent years pharma companies have begun to wonder whether artificially boosting telomerase through drugs, could prevent age-related diseases. Seoul-based pharma company GemVax have developed a product named GV1001 which boosts telomerase levels in cells, with the aim of seeing whether it can prevent decline in Alzheimers patients and prevent the onset of the disease altogether. In a recent Phase II clinical trial of moderate to severe Alzheimers patients, they reported promising results on an assessment tool called the severe impairment battery (SIB) scale. The results exceeded our expectations, said Jay Sangjae Kim, chairman of GemVax. With the major test a Phase III trial which is set to get underway in 2021 still to come, the results must be viewed cautiously, but the success of GV1001 has the potential to yield a new frontier of telomerase based drugs for age related diseases.

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How does the human body react to being in space? – Sciworthy

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Since 1961, more than 500 humans have flown into space. However, only 20 astronauts have stayed more than 90 days on long-duration space missions. If humans will one day travel to and from Mars, the round-trip will take 3 years. It is essential then, before those crew members ever launch, that we understand the effects long duration spaceflight has on the human body.

This unique environment consists of extreme conditions such as weightlessness, high radiation, variations in extreme temperature and pressure, among other health stressors. Long duration space flight significantly affects astronaut body mass index and what genes are expressed. Changes in metabolism, vascular health, the gastrointestinal microbiome, and cognitive performance were also observed during spaceflight. These adverse effects resolve upon return to earth as astronauts maintain vigorous exercise and nutrition programs for rehabilitation.

To study in depth the changes taking place in the human body over such a long mission in space, researchers need to look at everything from genetics to body mass. Among the Astronaut corps, NASA had a unique opportunity a set of genetically identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly. For 340 days, Scott would be on the International Space Station (ISS), while Mark remained on Earth, both undergoing the same medical analyses, pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight to catalog the changes between the two.

The results were obtained from samples including saliva, stool, skin, urine and blood. Different molecular level techniques, cognitive tests, and biometric tests were used to understand the genetic, physiological and psychological changes in the astronauts.

The astronauts experienced changes in the expression of over 800 genes during spaceflight. Most of the genes returned to normal after flight, but some did not leading to changes in astronauts genetics and physiology. Space radiation may have damaged their DNA.

The midflight flu vaccination administered by the astronauts worked exactly as it does on Earth. This suggests the primary immune system functions were maintained during the flight, and vaccines were still an effective tool for protection.

Genes related to inflammation were more active, which may result from the human body reacting to long duration space flight. Researchers suggest telomeres (a region of DNA at the end of a chromosome) act as an aging clock in every cell, as we grow older our telomeres grow shorter. Telomere elongation was observed in space, but we cannot conclude that space is a miraculous location that adds to human longevity. Elongation may be due to the exercise and calorie-regulation astronauts maintain inflight.

A rapid shortening of telomeres in less than 45 hours was observed upon astronaut return to Earth, likely due to the extreme stresses associated with landing. Mainly the longer telomeres are associated with healthy lifestyle factors such as good nutrition and regular physical activity. However, it is unknown if telomere lengthening and shortening relate to aging in this case, because of the lack of research conducted on telomeres in microgravity.

Spaceflight might have effects on learning and cognition. The in-space astronaut could complete learning and work tasks with greater speed and accuracy, concluding that spaceflight may affect cognition positively.

Bone density is of great concern for space biology researchers. It is well known that spaceflight causes rapid loss of bone density, decreased muscle mass, and weight loss. These are common physiological changes observed in astronauts due to changes in gene and hormone regulation in space. Furthermore, due to microgravity, blood and fluids move from lower to upper body called headward fluid shift causing an appearance of a puffy face and skinny legs. This fluid shift may lead to increased pressure in the veins and capillaries of the eyes causing vision problems in astronauts.

Research also suggests astronauts are at high risk for dehydration, evidenced by changes in the gene AQP2, which regulates water reabsorption in the body and is a useful indicator of hydration status. On the ISS, the isolated and confined environment of the astronauts puts them in a degree of psychological stress. Meanwhile, eating only freeze-dried or heat-stabilized prepackaged food in space is different from what astronauts are used to eating on Earth. These psychological and nutritional stressors in astronauts negatively affect the function of beneficial gut microbes. This change in the gut microbiome results in alterations of immunity, physiology, and even psychological well-being.

The NASA twin study generated unique biomedical data on the effect of a year-long spaceflight on the human body. Most of the biological changes returned to baseline after the 340-day space mission, suggesting that human health can be mostly sustained over this spaceflight duration. As the researchers suggest, the space environment leads to potential health risks. Exercise, a good diet, and personalized medicine will make multi-year space exploration safe for astronauts. These advancements also have the potential to improve Earth medicine as well.

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A century and counting: Ardmore woman turned 100 on Friday – Daily Ardmoreite

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Drew Butler| dbutler@gannett.com

In the evening hours of Saturday, December 18, 1920 a little girl was born in Garvin County. On Friday, December 18, 2020 that little girl, Velma Peery, celebrated her 100th birthday at Canoe Brook Ardmore Assisted Living.

Ive still got a lot of life in me, she said. I can do pretty good, but the more I sit around the stiffer I get.

Her son, Lynn Peery shared a few details about his mothers life. She lived in Garvin County for most of her life until moving into an assisted living facility in Ardmore a little over a decade ago. She was married to her husband for 57 years until his death in 1994, and the couple had four sons and one daughter.

Lynn, at the age of 74, is the baby of the family, and he said four of the five siblings are still living. One of his brothers passed away last year after an infection he developed after a surgery.

He credits his mother's and siblings' longevity with honest living and hard work along with the help of genetics.

My grandparents on her side both passed away in their early 80s, Peery said. On my dads side most of them died in their early 50s. My dad had heart surgery at 54 and we were able to keep him for another 20 years until he passed away at the age of 74.

He shared a story about his mother from the day after his father passed.

When my dad passed away, we went up and spent the night, Peery said. The next morning I got up and made coffee for everybody and took her some. She told me that she didnt like that stuff. I said what do you mean you dont like it? You and dad sat and drank coffee every morning for 57 years! She said well, he liked to talk and drink coffee in the morning, and I never liked it but I did it for him. Talk about dedication!

Peery lives in Ardmore as do several of her grandchildren. He said he visits her through the window almost every day and the entire family is looking forward to when they are able to come inside to visit and take her out for day trips.

She said she feels like a tiger in a cage because she cant get out and everybody is stuck inside, he said. We hope to get to where we can get her out to move around a bit. Were also looking forward to getting in and helping her redo her room once all of this is done.

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A century and counting: Ardmore woman turned 100 on Friday - Daily Ardmoreite

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The Adrenomyeloneuropathy Treatment Market to grow on an emphatic note from 2019 to 2029 – PharmiWeb.com

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Adrenomyeloneuropathy is a rare genetic neuro-degenerative disease. Adrenomyeloneuropathy is the adult onset of adrenoleukodystrophy caused by the mutation in ABCD1 gene occurs usually in young boys. Adrenomyeloneuropathy disease affect the nerve cells in the spine and brain and the adrenal glands. Adrenomyeloneuropathy symptoms includes stiffness, weakness and pain in the legs. Adrenomyeloneuropathy is also known as progressive spastic paraparesis. Damage to the nerves of the legs which causes unsteadiness and fall, also the bladder, bowel and sexual organs are affected by the adrenomyeloneuropathy. Rare diseases affect vast numbers of people, with current data representing 30 million sufferers in the EU alone and 30 million affected in the US. There is no cure to Adrenomyeloneuropathy. However some treatment might stop the progression of Adrenomyeloneuropathy such as stem cell transplants. Blood testing, MRI test, vision screening and Skin biopsy and fibroblast cell culture are done for the diagnosis for the adrenomyeloneuropathy. Continued advances in the treatment of adrenomyeloneuropathy will further propel the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market.

Growing cases of rare disease and development of new and advanced treatment for rare disease is expected to boost the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market. Growing preference for healthy lifestyle and favorable government regulation spur the Adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market in the forecast period. Development of new technology and devices for the diagnosis of genetic disorders will propel the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market. Rising focus on the research and development of new therapeutic and drug treatment and growing government funding for the orphan drug is expected to drive the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market.

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However, stringent regulations for the drug development and high cost of associated with the treatment is expected to hinder the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market.

The global adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market is segmented on basis of disease type, drug type and end user and geography.

Development of novel drugs and undergoing clinical trial for the rare disease is expected to boost adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market. More than 3,000 drugs are in active development for one of the rare disease. Progress in genomics and biomedical science for the development of rare disease drug is expected to spur the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market. Various pharmaceutical companies are focusing on developing drug for the low prevalence disease types and rising funding and collaboration among the key players and government is expected to spur the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market.

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The North America market for adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment is expected to retain its dominance, owing to increasing patient pool for rare disease, increasing government funding to accelerate the research and development for rare disease. According to Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, more than 25 million Americans are suffering from rare disease in United States.Europe is expected to account for the second largest share in the global adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market owing to growing clinical trial funding programs for orphan drug development and high prevalence of adrenomyeloneuropathy and high treatment seeking rate. Asia Pacific is expected to show significant growth, owing to increasing diagnosis rate and improvement in healthcare infrastructure. China is expected to show significant growth in the adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market, due to rising population improving R&D capability, increasing per capita heath spending. Latin America and Middle East & Africa is expected to show growth owing to lack of diagnosis and inadequate healthcare facilities and lack of skilled physicians for Adrenomyeloneuropathy Treatment market.

Examples of some of the key manufacturer present in the global adrenomyeloneuropathy treatment market are Ascend Biopharmaceuticals, Novadip Biosciences, Eureka Therapeutics, Human Longevity, Regeneus, Allogene Therapeutics, BioRestorative Therapies, Immatics Biotechnologies, NewLink Genetics, Cytori Therapeutics, Talaris Therapeutics among others.

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Getting to the root of why hair goes gray – messenger-inquirer

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

Marco Kaltofen was 11 when he noticed his first white hairs. As his hair grew whiter, his middle-school friends started calling him the professor. By his mid-30s, it was completely white, as it had been for three of his grandparents. His parents went white in their 40s, so I had no chance of avoiding this, Kaltofen says.

Now 61, he is a civil engineer who lives in Boston. He wears his white hair in a ponytail. White hair is part of my identity, and I am completely at peace with it, he says.

Then there is Joe Rees, 75, a retired customs attache who lives in Washington. He is balding, but the hair that remains on the sides and in the back is the same dark brown it always has been. He jokingly attributes this to clean living and a pure heart, although, like Kaltofen, it probably is genetic. His mothers black hair didnt start to go gray until she was in her 70s, and was 50/50 when she died at 88, he says.

Still, Id rather be gray than bald, he says. That way, I wouldnt have to worry about wearing a hat all the time.

To be sure, Rees and Kaltofen are exceptions, since most people start graying in their 50s and 60s. Nevertheless, their experiences are among the many mysteries of gray, white or silver-looking hair that scientists are exploring to learn more about aging. They want to know why some people turn gray early and others late or not at all and what this might signal about their health. They also want to understand the factors that hasten graying, and even whether gray hair is reversible which could be a boon to those allergic to hair dye, or who hate spending money to keep the gray away.

Most important, studying gray hair could point to new approaches in promoting healthier aging, says Candace Kerr, health scientist administrator in the National Institute on Agings Division of Aging Biology.

While graying is one of the markers of aging aging is the ultimate risk factor for why hair goes gray it highlights the need for better understanding of the mechanisms that drive aging and age-related diseases, she says. To be able to target these pathways will be critically important for our aging population to live longer and happier lives.

Hair that looks gray, white or silver actually is colorless. Hair color comes from melanin, a pigment produced by cells in the hair follicles. Over time, these cells suffer damage and become depleted, losing their ability to make melanin. This results in new hair without pigment meaning, no color.

People use gray, white and silver interchangeably to describe hair that is turning or has turned. Its appearance whether it looks, gray, white or silver depends on how much natural color, or pigment, remains, experts say. Hair that has lost all its color typically appears white.

Studies have identified a number of factors that also may speed up gray hair, including smoking, diet, stress and genetics.

Our hair color depends on a set of specialized stem cells called melanocyte stem cells, and every time a new hair grows, these melanocyte stem cells have to divide in two and make a new melanocyte, [or] pigment cells, explains Melissa Harris, assistant professor of biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. These pigment cells stay in the base of your hair and their job is to produce pigment. These melanocytes reach out skinny arms, called dendritic processes, that shuttle the pigment to the hair shaft as it grows. So if all your melanocyte stem cells disappear, so do your melanocytes and so does your hair pigment. Thus gray hair.

Because stem cells directly influence hair color, studying gray hair can provide insights about why stem cells age and ultimately fail, offering important clues about the workings of other stem cells in the body for example, those found in muscles, bones and organs. In turn, these ultimately could point to whether gray hair could be a marker for disease, or the opposite, a longer life. Previous studies have not shown a relationship between life span and gray hair, including whether late onset of gray hair predicts longevity. Some research, however, indicates that gray or white hair can be a sign of early heart disease, regardless of age.

In some people, gray hair could potentially serve as indication of their health for instance when caused by stress, or a signal for those who may be developing cardiovascular disease, Kerr says. We still need to learn more about whether and, if so, how late onset of gray hair can signal better health and longevity in some people under certain circumstances, as well as whether early graying means stem cells might be aging.

There are many different stem cells in our body which may or may not age by different means, she says. How stem cells mark aging overall and how they could interact to promote aging is an important question.

This is why scientists who study gray hair regard it as a valuable research tool.

As gray hair researchers, we often have to defend why we study a cosmetic characteristic, rather than a life-threatening disease, Harris says. But what is very cool about gray hair from a scientific point of view is that we can see it with our own eyes, meaning we dont have to take invasive biopsies, and it doesnt kill you. We have asked a lot of important and interesting questions about stem cells by studying gray hair in mice. And, we are constantly on the lookout for gray-haired mice so we can use our scientific skills to find out what makes them gray.

A 2018 mouse study by Team Hair-Us (Harris nickname for her lab colleagues) found a connection between MITF (microphthalmia), a transcription factor (a protein involved in gene expression) important in managing pigment production, and the innate immune system, suggesting that some peoples hair may turn gray in response to serious illness or chronic stress. They discovered a relationship between genes involved in hair color and those that trigger an immune response to a viral infection, suggesting this interaction could increase the chances of developing gray hair.

MITF, in a sense, shields melanocyte stem cells from our own immune system, she says. Normally our immune system protects our bodies from infection. But for melanocyte stem cells, too much immune response is bad for their health, and this leads to their loss and to gray hair. Why melanocyte stem cells are so sensitive to our own natural means for protection, we still dont know.

Im very curious to see whether we see an uptick in individuals with gray hair due to coronavirus infection, she says. Unfortunately, we probably wont know because gray hair is rarely documented clinically, unless it is very extreme.

Scientists still dont know why some people turn gray early, late, or not at all, although they suspect genes, nutrients and possibly the immune system play a role in depleting melanocyte stem cells.

There is still much to learn about what regulates these stem cells and what may contribute to their loss, says Ya-Chieh Hsu, associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard University and principal faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Among other things, Hsu studies the effect of stress on graying. Most of us are familiar with those before-and-after photographs of U.S. presidents most recently Barack Obama showing a striking increase in gray hair during their terms, even in relatively young presidents. Its known as the Marie Antoinette Syndrome, after the 18th-century French queen whose hair allegedly turned white overnight before she went to the guillotine and her death at age 38 during the French Revolution.

With the aging process, we gradually lose melanocyte stem cells one-by-one over a very long period of time, Hsu says. What we found in our research was that the stress can accelerate that process.

Hsu and her colleagues found that stress stimulates the same nerves that trigger the fight-or-flight response, which in turn causes permanent damage to the pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. The fight or flight response is thought to be a good thing in stressful situations because it can drive us and other organisms to respond to danger rapidly, Hsu says. This activation causes a spike in the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine raises our heartbeat and allows us to react quickly to danger without having to think about it.

But norepinephrine also tells melanocyte stem cells to pump up their activity and proliferate, and too much norepinephrine, in this case triggered by stress, causes the melanocyte stem cells to burst into so much activity it leads to rapid depletion of the stem cell reservoir, she says. If all the stem cells are depleted, no more pigment-producing cells can be produced anymore, and the hair turns gray.

Other stress hormones, ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) for example, can cause melanocyte stem cells to migrate away from the hair follicle before they can produce the melanocytes needed for hair and skin color, according to research. Such hormones are known to increase in the body after stress, and may have the potential to promote the loss of these cells, regardless of age, says study author Mayumi Ito, associate professor in the departments of cell biology and dermatology at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

Hsu believes the connection between stress and hair color could reveal additional information about how stress affects other biological processes. How stress affects our tissues is still poorly understood, and one of the powerful aspects about the melanocyte is that it provides a visible and highly trackable system to study stress, she says.

Ito also found that certain cell signaling proteins called endothelins (substances known to constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure) bind to melanocyte stem cells and, in doing so, keep them healthy. Interrupting the process causes cell loss and early graying in mice. They are studying whether the same happens in human hair follicles, hoping to find ways to preserve or regenerate the key stem cells that give hair its color.

All of this raises the intriguing possibility that scientists could discover ways to prevent or reverse gray hair.

Team Hair-Us recently published a paper describing a topical drug combination that increased melanocyte stem cells in gray mice, ridding them of their gray and restoring their original fur color perhaps for good. Because the treatment originally developed to regrow hair replenished pigment-producing stem cells, the effects could be long-lasting, Harris says.

We didnt keep the mice forever so we dont know, says Harris, who plans more studies. This has made us very interested in whether gray hair really is permanent, and if we can do something about it. We really want to know and so does everyone else we talk to is whether and when we can bring this to humans.

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Which countries have the highest life expectancy in Europe? – World Economic Forum

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, as Benjamin Franklin remarked. But just as tax rates differ depending on the jurisdiction, so life expectancy varies across borders.

As the chart below shows, there are big gaps in longevity even between the relatively affluent countries of Europe, where a Spanish woman can expect to live more than 16 years longer than a Latvian man.

Life expectancy varies greatly access Europe's different economies.

Image: OECD

So what makes some countries more conducive to a long life than others?

What people eat is a major factor. Long life is more common in places where the Mediterranean diet is the norm, such as Spain, Italy and Cyprus. Numerous scientific studies have proved the benefits of the typical Mediterranean diet: high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish, and low in meat (especially red meat) and most dairy products. The combination reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks, the two biggest killers worldwide. At the other end of the scale, there is a much higher incidence of heart and circulatory diseases in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic states.

Health spending also plays a significant role. Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries spend three or four times the amount of money per capita on healthcare than the average in Eastern Europe. This mirrors the situation in the rest of the world, where there is a strong correlation between health and wealth.

Each year, $3.2 trillion is spent on global healthcare making little or no impact on good health outcomes.

To address this issue, the World Economic Forum created the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare to accelerate value-based health systems transformation.

This council partners with governments, leading companies, academia, and experts from around the world to co-design and pilot innovative new approaches to person-centered healthcare.

Other factors that can affect longevity include lifestyle choices such as alcohol consumption and smoking, environmental issues like air pollution, and genetics. In every country, women tend to live significantly longer than men, with the biggest gaps in the Baltic states, and the smallest in the Netherlands.

A long life doesnt necessarily mean a healthy old age, as the chart below demonstrates.

Life expectancy and healthy life years at birth, by gender, 2018 (or nearest year)

Women are expected to live longe than men.

Image: OECD

For example, both men and women in Bulgaria are healthy and active for longer than in Portugal, even though their overall life expectancy is less. As more nations have ageing populations, getting more out of later life is becoming an increasingly important challenge.

Alzheimers Diesease, a result of rapid ageing that causes dementia, is a growing concern. Dementia, the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, cost the world $1.25 trillion in 2018, and affected about 50 million people in 2019. Without major breakthroughs, the number of people affected will triple by 2050, to 152 million.

To catalyse the fight against Alzheimer's, the World Economic Forum is partnering with the Global CEO Initiative (CEOi) to form a coalition of public and private stakeholders including pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotech companies, governments, international organizations, foundations and research agencies.

The initiative aims to advance pre-clinical research to advance the understanding of the disease, attract more capital by lowering the risks to investment in biomarkers, develop standing clinical trial platforms, and advance healthcare system readiness in the fields of detection, diagnosis, infrastructure and access.

There is a caveat to the data in the OECD report: it all predates the COVID-19 pandemic. Until 2018, life expectancy had been increasing across the EU, although more slowly in recent years. It is possible that in the worst-hit countries, among them Spain and Italy, 2020 could see a decline in life expectancy for the first time in decades.

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New Research Aims To Increase Longevity Of Bumblebee Hives For NZ Growers – Scoop.co.nz

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Monday, 14 December 2020, 2:58 pmPress Release: Ministry For Primary Industries

New research backed by the Ministry for PrimaryIndustries (MPI) could help bumblebee hives to live longerand be more efficient.

The new project is researchingways to protect the long-term sustainability of New Zealandhorticulture, including how to enhance the performance ofbumblebee hives using pheromones.

MPI is contributing$160,000 towards the $400,000 project through itsSustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures)fund.

Dr Gunjan Gera of Gourmet Waiuku Limited isleading the project, supported by consultant Dr JoStephens.

Dr Gera says bumblebees are often used forpollination in berryfruit crops, glasshouses, and othercovered crop areas as the bees tend to travel only about 200metres from their hives and dont mind enclosed spaces,whereas honeybees prefer to fly to flowers furtherafield.

In the field, the queen bumblebee of acommercial hive lives for approximately 8-10 weeks and thehive winds down once the queen dies, says DrGera.

With fewer worker bees, the hives can appearless active when compared to honeybees and there can bevariation in vigour and productiveness.

Our projectwill study various factors and compounds in conjugation withthe bumblebee queens to see if we can extend the life of ahive to at least 12-18 weeks. If this works, we have a wayof complementing nature, using a pheromonesubstitute.

The technology is in its infancyoverseas and commercial companies using it havent yetreleased much information, says Dr JoStephens.

Were hoping to lead the way in NZ, butit will involve a good deal of trial and error given thelimited progress globally in this area.

Dr Stephensexplains that bumblebees were introduced to New Zealand fromthe United Kingdom by the early pioneers, so there islimited genetic diversity. Although commercial breedersincorporate new genetic diversity from the wildoccasionally, the gene pool is limited.

Anotherimportant part of the research will be screening bumblebeesfor diseases, including those associated withinbreeding.

Well be looking at the levels ofinbreeding in New Zealand populations to see if this is amajor concern, and whether we need to consider thepossibility of importing bumblebee genetics.

MPIInvestment Programmes director Steve Penno says this projectcould help increase the productivity of bumblebee hivesdramatically.

Enhancing bumblebee activity wouldmean better pollination for growers, which means higheryields and better quality produce, he says.

As wellas the bumblebee research, the project will also look atdeveloping technology to rear Limonicuspredatory mites. Thismite is effective in controlling thrips, whiteflies, andother mites in greenhouses and protected culture systems.While it occurs naturally in New Zealand, it is currentlyonly reared overseas and is re-imported for New Zealandgrowers.

This is expensive, time-consuming, andtheres always the risk of supply shortages, says DrGera.

If we can successfully rear these mites forcommercial production and release them in New Zealand itwill be far more cost-effective to controlpests.

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The ‘Wondrous Map’: Charting of the Human Genome, 20 Years Later – Medscape

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton announced completion of what was arguably one of the greatest advances of the modern era: the first draft sequence of the human genome.

"Without a doubt, this is the most important, the most wondrous map ever produced by humankind," Clinton said on June 26, 2000 from the White House, predicting that genome science "will revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases." In the future, he said, "doctors will increasingly be able to cure diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, and cancer by attacking their genetic roots."

And indeed, the sequencing of the human genome achieved simultaneously by the Human Genome Project (HGP), an international consortium begun in 1990 and led by Francis Collins, MD, then director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and by J. Craig Venter, PhD, with his team at the privately held Celera Genomics has revolutionized the approach to human health.

President Bill Clinton is flanked by Dr J. Craig Venter (left) and Dr Francis Collins announcing the first draft sequence of the human genome in June 2000.

Although the unbridled optimism of 20 years ago has not been matched with success in every quarter, much of the promise has begun to be realized. Scientists have so far identified 5000 rare diseases and 40 to 50 genes that confer cancer risk, developed simple prenatal blood tests to detect chromosomal abnormalities, and generated genetic profiles of tumors to facilitate better-targeted therapies, among other accomplishments. Even the current global fight against COVID-19 is relying on genomics.

"There hasn't been a pharmaceutical developed in last 20 years that hasn't utilized genome information," Venter told Medscape Medical News.

"Not a day goes by in science that we don't see some offshoot of benefit from what happened 20 years ago," said Eric Topol, MD, the chair of innovative medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape.

Finding the genes was just the beginning though; describing function and using that information therapeutically is still just getting underway in many clinical areas. "We now know that genes are only a small fraction of the complexity of the human genome," says Eric Green, MD, PhD, the current director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).

When it started, the sequencing of the human genome did not seem like a value proposition nor was it expected to be. Congress authorized $3 billion for the HGP in 1990 and set a target completion date of 2005.

The final sequence, a database of some 3 billion DNA base pairs, came in under budget the NHGRI estimates the cost at $2.7 billion in 2003, two years ahead of schedule and exactly 50 years after James Watson and Francis Crick first described DNA.

It had been only 15 months since the international consortium of 1000 researchers across six nations began their sequencing effort in earnest, and a scant 9 months from when Venter's team starting sequencing its human genome. Celera Genomics spent just $100 million, Venter estimates.

What seemed like a massive investment at the time now looks like chicken scratch. "It was a bargain," Topol said.

The race to create the map of the human genome would generate goodwill, create strife, elevate egos, and make careers. Much has been written about the clash between Collins and Venter two polar opposites with different motivations and different approaches.

Collins, a dedicated public servant and man of deep Christian faith, believed in the power of the academic and governmental research enterprise.

Venter, on the other hand, ruffled feathers with his big ideas and generally more capitalistic approach. He began his career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1984 and created a gene discovery tool called expressed sequence tags (ESTs). That caught the eye of venture capitalists, who lured him out of the agency. They backed Venter's nonprofit, The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), to develop the technology.

At TIGR, Venter decoded the genome of Haemophilus influenzae using his whole genome "shotgun" technique. When he applied to the NIH for a grant to support the shotgun method, however, he was rejected. The maker of a DNA sequencing machine, PE Biosystems, then installed Venter as the CEO of the new, private Celera Genomics in 1998.

The NIH-led consortium did not see the value of the shotgun approach and instead relied on a more traditional sequencing method, which was more laborious and time-consuming, Topol recalls. After that NIH rejection, the competition was on, and the rivalry became bitter.

"There was no love lost between these two gentleman," Topol acknowledged. On that day in June 2000 when the announcement was made, "it required Clinton and whoever else to kind of get them to stand together and make nice," added Topol, who was present at the celebration.

A release from the NIH on the commemoration of the 20th anniversary in June of this year describes the situation this way: "The joint presence of these two scientific leaders signified the agreed-upon shared success of the public HGP and private Celera Genomics efforts in generating the first draft sequence of the human genome."

Still, the competition, in retrospect, was a good thing because it accelerated progress, Topol said.

The draft sequence unveiled in 2000 covered 90% of the genome at an error rate of one in 1000 base pairs, but there were more than 150,000 gaps, and only 28% of the genome had reached true completion. When the final version was made public in 2003, there were less than 400 gaps and 99% of the genome was finished with an accuracy rate of less than one error in every 10,000 base pairs.

Looking back, the technologies used then "now seem almost prehistoric," says NHGRI director Green. "Nothing in the way we sequence DNA is the same now. We can do it in a day or two and it costs less than a thousand dollars." He expects the cost of sequencing a human genome will eventually drop below $100.

The final, almost-complete sequence published in 2003 was "foundational," providing "the alphabet around which everything else has been constructed," said Mark McCarthy, MD, senior director and staff scientist in human genetics at the California-based biotechnology company, Genentech. "It's hard to think of a more concrete example in science other than maybe the periodic table," McCarthy told Medscape Medical News.

Doing genetic research before the full sequence was published, he says, was like being an "explorer in some novel land." Without a clear map of the terrain, researchers used analogue methods to try to determine locations of genes or recombination events, he said. It was frustrating and "a huge impediment to progress."

Now, scientists can "just click on a mouse and get almost immediately the worlds of data around any genomic regions," he said.

"Most scientists today never had to sequence a gene," Venter points out. "They don't have to, because they just look it up on the internet."

"Graduate students today can't imagine how we ever did any experiments or learned anything without having access to the human genome sequence with a click of a mouse," said Collins, in a video testimonial celebrating the 30th anniversary of the start of the project.

To Collins, one of the genome project's main goals was to give clinicians better tools to heal their patients. "Together we must develop the advances in medicine, that is the real reason for doing this work," he said in 2000.

If you would have told me that in my professional career I would have seen genomics actually change the practice of medicine in any way, shape, or form, I would have said, 'There's just no way, we're two generations away from that.' Dr Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

But it wasn't until a decade later that genomics was talked about in medicine, said Green. "Now, we have clear examples for genomics being used every day," he said.

"If you would have told me that in my professional career I would have seen genomics actually change the practice of medicine in any way, shape or form, I would have said, 'There's just no way, we're two generations away from that,'" Green said.

Perhaps the biggest impact of these advances in genomics to date has been in the practice of oncology.

"Cancer care has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the genomic revolution," said Frederick M. Schnell, MD, chief medical officer of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA). Schnell points to the work of Brian Druker, MD, who helped discover the mutation that causes chronic myelogenous leukemia and also was instrumental in developing a precision treatment for CML, imatinib (Gleevec).

"That was probably the singular most important development for a particular, albeit not common, but not uncommon disease that had a disgraceful, horrible projected survival and mortality associated with it, and has changed it to a curable disease," Schnell told Medscape.

The HGP led to the Cancer Genome Atlas, a book of some 20,000 cancer genomes and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types.

"In order to understand what was going wrong in a cancer, you first had to understand what the genome was supposed to look like in somebody the cell that was not cancerous," said Richard Schilsky, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The comparisons "help us identify mutations that are real drivers of cancer and have opened up the whole field of precision oncology," Schilsky, formerly chief of hematology/oncology and deputy director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, told Medscape Medical News.

In addition to helping identify cancer susceptibility genes, the genome project also led to variations associated with how drugs are metabolized, Schilsky said.

For instance, it is now known that 10% of the population has a variant of the UGT1A1 gene that leads to poor metabolism of the chemotherapy drug irinotecan (Camptosar), causing worse side effects. The drug's label now notes the availability of a simple lab test to look for the variant.

Schilsky is lead investigator of an ASCO-sponsored trial called TAPUR that aims to match patients with certain tumor variants to therapies that might work, but are not FDA-approved for that particular cancer. Some 2000 individuals have enrolled and received free medications (provided by one of the eight drug companies participating) since the trial began in 2016, said Schilsky.

One goal is to collect evidence on off-label uses which might help therapies gain acceptance in clinical practice guidelines and, potentially, reimbursement. TAPUR also aims to help oncologists learn more about genomics.

Precision oncology is still not available to all cancer patients, however. Schnell said the COA is lobbying for better access and insurance coverage.

He believes that genomics could be used as a replacement for screening tests such as mammograms and colonoscopies. "This is going to be a big application point for the genomic revolution as it continues," he said.

Topol agrees that genomics could create a tailored approach to prevention. "Why does every woman need a mammogram when only 12% will ever develop breast cancer?" he says.

The progress made to date in understanding the human genome is also proving to be a key weapon as scientists fight the important current threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China made the first genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus available on January 12, 2020, just weeks after the nation reported the initial cluster of cases.

Researchers have since uploaded 245,000 genomic sequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the World Health Organization's Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) portal. The speedy sequencing and widespread sharing of data led to quick development of molecular diagnostics and identification of potential targets for vaccines and therapeutics.

The NHGRI, among others, is supporting genomic studies around the world that aim to understand the differences between those who become severely ill and those "who barely seem to notice they have the disease," NHGRI director Green told Medscape Medical News. "There is no question there is going to be some genomic basis for the severity of the disease,"

He also expects genomics to be used in vaccine trials to separate responders from nonresponders.

While rare monogenic diseases were a relative cinch, common illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease have turned out to be more complicated.

It wasn't until the mid-2000s, when genome-wide association studies (which look for small variations that occur more frequently in people with disease) came into greater use, that scientists began to get a clearer picture, said Genentech's McCarthy.

It turns out that "hundreds, if not thousands of genetic variations and genetic regions" seem to predispose someone to a common disease, he said. He's applying genome-wide approaches in type 2 diabetes, but it requires datasets of a million or more people to get a robust result, McCarthy said.

Even then, "it just gives you a bunch of sign posts around the genome and then you have to work out what they do and how they influence predisposition in a given individual," he said. Researchers have begun to understand "the range of pathways and networks that are involved in the genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes," which in turn is giving information on potential therapeutic targets.

The obstacle is not having enough genome-wide genetic data, which may change as more countries find ways to collect more genetic data, McCarthy said.

"We're not getting complete comprehensive views of all the genes involved and all the genomic variants that confer risk," for chronic diseases, agreed Green. "That's the big challenge for the next decade."

Another challenge that NHGRI has outlined in its strategic plan, released in October, is broadening human genome reference databases to include a wider representation of humanity. "Much like all other scientific disciplines, genomics is reckoning with systematic injustice and biases of the past," the agency said in a press release. The plan also addresses data control, privacy, genome editing, and barriers to a thriving genomics enterprise.

Venter believes that getting to the root of chronic diseases means combining the phenotype with the genotype. In 2013, he started Human Longevity, a company that offers sequencing, imaging, and a host of diagnostics to those who can afford the service, to give a complete picture.

"Without extensive phenotype information, the genome isn't highly useful on its own," said Venter, who feels the combination could be a true preventive medicine platform.

As much as the sequencing of the genome has brought to medicine, "I think the greatest promise of the genome remains to be realized," said Venter.

The initial focus was on genes. Humans, it turns out, have only 20,000 genes, not that many more than worms or fruit flies. But there's more to life outside of those genes, said Green.

The human genome "is a treasure chest, but we have only gotten a limited number of the keys so far," said Topol. "It is not nearly as informative as it could be."

And genomics still has the potential to do harm an issue that gets periodic scrutiny by commissions and the public. On that day in 2000 at the White House, Venter noted that a just-released poll had reported that 46% of Americans believed that "the impact of the Human Genome Project will be negative."

Privacy of genetic information is a perennial concern, and technologies such as gene editing, which allows scientists to alter DNA have brought up new ethical challenges.

On the other hand, the public has been mesmerized by genetic genealogy technologies that allow them to determine their own ancestry or disease risk, and that have more recently helped law enforcement solve crimes, some of them longstanding cold cases.

Twenty years ago, Venter predicted that the wonders would continue unabated. "The complexities and wonder of how the inanimate chemicals that are our genetic code give rise to the imponderables of the human spirit should keep poets and philosophers inspired for the millenniums," he said in 2000.

His view is more tempered today. "I'm optimistic about the future," says Venter now. "I'm pessimistic about how soon it will get here."

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Size Matters, And Other Lessons From Medical Genetics – Genomes Unzipped

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

In October of 1992, genetics researchers made a potentially groundbreaking discovery.

Their findings were published in Nature, and stated that a genetic variant in the angiotensin-converting enzyme ACE appeared to alter an individuals risk of having a heart attack.

The study involved a total of over 500 individuals from four categories.

After publication of these results, there was initial excitement because this same polymorphism was associated with diabetes and longevity, but after inconclusive replication studies, this excitement swiftly transitioned into disappointment.

In 2000, 8 years after the initial report, a large study involving over 5,000 cases and controls found no detectable effect of the ACE polymorphism on an individual's risk of heart attack.

Meanwhile, the same polymorphism had been detected in dozens of other association studies linking it to a wide range of genetic traits ranging from obstetric cholestasis to meningococcal disease in children.

Its not rare for initial reports of associations between candidate genes and complex diseases to fail to replicate when further studies are conducted.

Common genetic polymorphisms have an insignificant impact on the risk of disease and sample sizes are often too small to prove anything.

Detecting these subtle effects requires studies involving not just dozens or hundreds of individuals, but thousands or tens-of-thousands.

In small studies, investigators often look at only one or at most, a few variants in a single gene. They then subset the data (splitting males and females, for example) to find significant results in a specific subgroup.

However, this, combined with a tendency to be biased towards positive results rather than highlighting negative results also, results in a conflicted and confusing body of literature which has ultimately slowed down progress in this area of research.

More recently, the medical genetics community has identified thousands of associations between genetic variants and disease that can be proven consistently and robustly.

This is down to innovations in genome-wide association studies carried out on thousands of individuals.

Not only can these studies detect tiny effects, but theyre not constrained to a particular starting hypothesis regarding specific parts of the genome being associated with a particular disease.

Despite this progress, researchers continue to make this two-decade-old mistake even today. This can be seen in the paper in question by Alex Kogan and colleagues.

This study looked at the candidate gene (the oxytocin receptor) and tested for association between a genetic variant in this gene and a trait called prosociality in a sample of 23 individuals.

If the effect sizes of genetic variants on relatively well-defined traits like diabetes and heart attack are small, the effect sizes of genetic variants on less well-defined traits like prosociality must be even smaller.

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Size Matters, And Other Lessons From Medical Genetics - Genomes Unzipped

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Intermittent Fasting Not Working? Here’s What Could Be Going Wrong, By an RD – The Beet

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Intermittent fasting is having a moment. Whether you prefer to eat keto or plant-based or are just trying to make up for some extra indulging over the holidays, everywhere you turn someone is extolling the virtues of this simple, flexible diet strategy, where you eat for a window of time (usually 8 hours) and then fast and let your body go without any food for a longer window (usually 14 to 16 hours). This allows your your body to metabolize the food you eat and then shift from burning that as its fuel to burning fat for fuel.

Adam Sandler to Kourtney Kardshian swear by intermittent fasting for weight management and other health benefits, according to the founders of Zero, the worlds most popular fasting app with 7 million users. Zero's Chief Medical Officeris Dr. Peter Attia, a fasting expert. The app itself was launched by Kevin Roe and is now run by Mike Maser, CEO and Founder of Big Sky Health.This app's popularity shows that intermittent fasting, while simple in concept, is not always as intuitive as it sounds, and some people need a little helpful coaching, insights, tracking, custom plans, in order to make intermittent fasting work.

If you're one of the millions of intermittent fasters who havetried it recently and not had great luck with it, or didn't see the weight drop off, there may be simple shifts you can make (like what you're eating during the on hours) to get the results you crave.

If you need a little help losing weight and eating healthier, while you're intermittent fasting, an all you're hearing is how "great" and easy it is from friends, we say turn to a source you trust, since expert advice is always the way to go. We asked Nicole Grant, RD, CNSC the lead dietician for the Zero Fasting app, the most popular IF coach in the app store, for her best tips on how to do IF right

Nicole Grant:While some people believe that fasting is another fad diet, the practice has been going on for centuries. So, it isnt an entirely new concept. However, I believe the uptick in popularity has come from a wider understanding of the non-weight loss related benefits. There are so many other positive outcomes from IF that can be experienced including boosted energy, reduced inflammation, accelerated cellular repair, improved body composition, and it can even be an effective tool to mitigate risk for metabolic syndrome.

Nicole Grant: Every individual body responds to fasting a little differently, due to genetics, current health, pre-existing conditions, and lifestyle, to name a few. However, for an average healthy person, there is a general timeline of expected metabolic responses. Between 0 and 4 hours after a meal, your body is still going through the process of digesting, utilizing and storing the last thing you ate. It takes the carbohydrates, protein and fat you consumed and turns them into glucose, amino acids and fatty acids to be used as energy or to be stored for later use. Once your body shifts out of that anabolic phase, the next 416 hours are dedicated to catabolism, [the breaking down of food into smaller molecules to burn as energy] lowering of blood glucose, lowering insulin levels, and triggering glucagon, to start breaking down glycogen (stored glucose in the body).

Between16 and 24 hours is generally when fat burning starts to become more dominant and 24+ hours is when we start seeing the body switch to a ketogenic state, where many of the longevity benefits start coming into play. Exactly which benefits you will experience depends on the duration of your fast as well as many of the individualized characteristics noted above (health, genetics, etc.). We suggest establishing a plan and approach thats best for your health, lifestyle, and specific goals in order to achieve the results you want.

Nicole Grant: We dont like to promote IF as a diet for rapid weight loss. Instead fasting should be seen as a tool that can be used in conjunction with better nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle practices to enhance overall health in a prolonged, sustainable way.In addition to that, we encourage people to establish and understand their why for fasting. By identifying what each individual wants to accomplish with fasting and having a clear goal in mind, it will help them to make safe and informed choices about what type of fasting and duration is right for them.

If the goal is to lose weight, the individual also needs to keep in mind where they are starting at, from a health perspective. Those who have more severe metabolic issues or who have more weight to lose will likely respond differently than those who start out a bit healthier.

Nicole Grant: The biggest pitfalls of fasting are the misconceptions that surround the practiceits not just a weight-loss strategy. There are many different benefits to fasting as outlined above, and based on the persons goal, fasting can provide different results and outcomes for people.Fasting is also not always the best choice for everyone. We do not recommend fasting for those who are Type I diabetic, pregnant or have had a history of disordered eating. In addition, those who take medications and supplements should also consult with a doctor prior to fasting to discuss any possible precautions that may need to be taken.

Nicole Grant: Zero acts as a personalized fasting coach that offers expert insights, tips, education, and resources for users. It also includes various helpful features, the timer feature for example is very popular and reminds users when they are able to break their fasts. Zero also recently announced Challenges which offers a fun way to stay motivated! Through Challenges, users can fast alongside Zero experts, invite friends to join, and achieve their goals.

Nicole Grant: When breaking a fast, consuming protein in the first meal is important because it helps to initiate the rebuild and repair phase. Some recommended plant-based options include organic, fermented soy, sprouted nuts/seeds and possibly some legumes/grains if those are tolerated and digested well in that individual. In addition, general nutrition guidelines of choosing whole foods, low in added sugars, and minimally processed items will be important to focus on outside of a fast.

Nicole Grant:One reason why I think fasting has become more mainstream is that it isnt a diet, its a practice that can be incorporated into a healthy way of eating throughout someones lifespan, and has a low barrier of entry. You dont have to pay for a system or regiment, its truly putting intention behind when you eat.

Unlike diets where people are on the program for a certain duration of time and then they revert back to their old eating habits, fasting is a timeless practice that can be used to benefit a variety of people.

The most popular fasting zone is catabolic,where you break down energy in the body, followed by anabolic where you build up muscle, followed by fat-burning, autophagy and finally deep ketosis.

According to data, a 16:8 fast is the most popular, where you fast for 16 hours and eat within the next 8, followed by 18:6 (fasting for 18 hours, eating in a 6-hour window), then 20:4, and then 13:11.Ascertain your best rhythm. Figure out what type of fast works best for you.

Setting goals is key to a successful fast. Managing weight is the #1 goal of those who fast, followed by increased energy, increased clarity, increased longevity, and finally detoxing.

Time isn't enough. Time restriction, caloric restriction and dietary restriction are the three variables that you should be keeping in mind when fasting, according to Dr. Attia, chief medical officer for Zero. "Time restriction is when you eat, when you dont eat; calorie restriction is how much; dietary is what you eat. The right way to do this is to have a strategy for all three and cycle through them."

People want to be healthier in quarantine and IF can help.Zero saw an uptake of 3M+ sign-ups since March, when the pandemic forced people into their homes for work and play, and your home became y our gym, so fitness and diet apps had a surge in popularity.

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Hair loss treatment: Sandalwood and sandalore are both effective in increasing hair growth – Express

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Hair loss: Dr Ranj discusses causes of male pattern baldness

Hair loss is a tricky situation as most of the time it comes down to stress with the more hair being lost, the more one stresses and so the vicious cycle continues. Genetics and environmental factors are also at play when it comes to hair loss. Fortunately, there are remedies to help this condition and sandalwood and sandalore could be your answer.

In traditional medicine, sandalwood oil has been used as an antiseptic and astringent, and for the treatment of headaches, stomach aches and urinary and genital disorders.

In India, sandalwood essential oil is used in the treatment of inflammatory and eruptive skin diseases.

Millions of men who are going bald may benefit from rubbing sandalwood oil onto their scalps.

Laboratory tests of scalp tissue by German researchers found it stimulates hair growth after just six days.

READ MORE:Hair loss treatment - Dr Sara explains the best type of shampoo to stimulate hair growth

Although humans and animals are only able to smell through their noses, receptors in hair, sperm and even our guts are able to recognise chemicals in certain aromas.

The findings could lead to a sandalwood-based balding treatment that may benefit the quarter of men who start to lose their hair by the time they turn 25.

Studies have already shown that exposing human skin cells to sandalwood in the lab causes the protein keratin to multiply, which speeds up wound healing.

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Researchers from the University of Manchester found that applying sandalwood to the scalp helped prolong human hair growth.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications explaining how the experiment conducted with the synthetic material and human skin samples achieved startling results.

The team found that a receptor cell in the skin known as OR2AT4 was sensitive to chemicals in synthetic sandalwood and when applied to the skin a growth of keratinocytes was stimulated.

As skin healing and hair growth are closely related, the researchers hypothesised that if applying sandalwood would new hair be able to grow.

Studies have shown that exposing human skin cells to the artificial sandalwood-like odour Sandalore, could help improve hair loss.

Sandalore is often added to fragrances and moisturisers to give sandalwood its aroma.

It has also been used in previous experiments in investigating its effect on keratin.

Intrigued by the possible effect sandalore has on hair growth, researchers from the Monasterium Laboratory in Munster, exposed the human scalp tissue to sandalore with impressive results.

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These are the signs and symptoms of dementia – and the stages explained – Yorkshire Post

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Read This

Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 8:31 am

According to the NHS, there are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia.

Following the death of actress Dame Barbara Windsor on 10 December, there has been much discussion around how dementia affects people and families and what can be done to prevent it from becoming aggressive.

The condition is linked with old age and lifestyle habits, but there is a range of things you can do to decrease your likelihood of developing dementia or to reduce the severity of the illness.

The term dementia is related to the symptoms and changes caused by various diseases in the body.

These symptoms include struggling with problem solving, memory loss, confusion and behaviour changes.

Dementia is not a disease nor is it a natural part of ageing - instead it is the name given to the impact of other diseases which have a negative effect on daily life.

The most common disease that causes dementia is Alzheimers.

Vascular dementia on the other hand is caused by diseased blood cells. Blood vessels can become blocked and deprive the brain of oxygen.

Other illnesses such as alcohol related brain disorder and strokes may also alter how the mind works and cause dementia.

The impact of dementia on each person can vary depending on what part of the brain is affected and what disease is causing it.

Some strains of dementia have been linked to genetics in a small number of cases.These people may inherit dementia through a specific gene and are likely to be diagnosed before the age of 65.

The majority of people will carry a number of genes which can increase and decrease the risk of dementia.

These can be exacerbated by their lifestyle habits.

What are the early signs and symptoms?

Dementia is a degenerative disease, meaning it will get progressively worse over time.

There are different signs and symptoms experienced at the early and later stages of dementia.

According to Alzheimers society, common early symptoms include problems with:

- recalling recent events and memory loss

- Difficulty concentrating, planning or organising this could include being unable to follow a sequence of tasks, such as cooking a meal

- misusing or struggling with common language using the wrong words to describe or label something or struggling to piece together a sentence.

- visuospatial skills for example, problems judging distances (such as on stairs) and seeing objects in three dimensions,

- orientation getting lost in common places or being unable to recall the day or date

A recent study published by Dr Davide Bruno at the School of Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) also suggested forgetting the start of a story could be a tell-tale sign of early onset of dementia.

What long-term effects can dementia have?

Alzheimers is thought to have the slowest progression rate, while dementia caused by strokes or vascular dementia may have a significant impact on memory and cognitive ability in a shorter period.

People experience different symptoms at different stages, however, some of the more progressive challenges are:

- lack of mobility - this can be caused by medication, dementia diseases or a combination of dementia and the other factors which resulted in the diagnosis - such as having a stroke or high blood pressure.

- an increasingly poor memory - a dementia patient may begin to lose their memory of significant people or times in their life as the disease progresses.

- loss of communication - the inability to verbalise what they want to say, struggling to understand what is being asked of them or limited speech.

- weight loss and eating - in the later stages of dementia, patients may lose a considerable amount of weight due to a lack of appetite or inability to chew and swallow. Weight loss can lead to a poor immune system and inability to fight infections and struggling to physically eat could be a choking hazard. You should contact your GP if you are concerned about someone with this symptom of dementia.

What lifestyle habits may increase your likelihood of having dementia?

There are thought to be a number of factors which result in dementia and many are linked to health and lifestyle habits which form and continue throughout your life.

There are also factors which are unavoidable and dementia cannot be completely prevented.

Habits which could reduce your risk are:

- Eating a healthy diet - a balanced diet which includes protein, fats and carbs and is high in nutrient rich food such as fruits and vegetables can help prevent dementia and cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke and heart disease.

- Exercising regularly - take part in two and a half hours of aerobic exercise - such as walking or cycling - per week, as well as some strengthening exercises

- Do not smoke - smoking inhibits the ability for blood vessels to carry oxygenated blood around the body and can lead to strokes, cancer and high blood pressure too.

- Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol - at most, you should aim to drink no more than 14 units each week, spread across at least three days. If you regularly drink much more than this, youre at risk of alcohol-related brain damage.

Challenge your mind - keeping your mind active is one of the most important ways to reduce the onset and severity of dementia. Think use it or lose it - try studying a new language, completing crosswords, playing cards or board games and reading.

Factors which you cannot control are:

- Age - people over the age of 65 are most likely to suffer from dementia related diseases and it affects one in six people over 80.

- Sex - women are more likely to suffer from dementia than men, even after longevity is taken into account. It is not known why this is.

- Ethnicity - South Asian people (from countries such as India and Pakistan) and people of African or African-Caribbean origin seem to develop dementia more often. They are known to be more prone to diabetes and stroke and this is thought to be more closely related to lifestyle and diet factors than genetics.

Currently, there is no cure for dementia, however there are therapies and drugs which can alleviate some of the related symptoms..

While drugs can curtail some of the effects, person-centred care such as taking part in hobbies and interests which the dementia patient has enjoyed throughout their past and recent years can support memory.

Psychological therapies can also support people who are struggling to cope with the confusion around dementia, and the changes they experience with regards to their mood and behaviour.

Continuing to eat healthily, exercise, read and avoid smoking and drinking will also support in slowing the progression to varying degrees.

For anyone experiencing dementia, or if you care for someone with dementia, support can be found via the following charities:

Age UK's Advice Line - 0800 055 6112 - 8am to 7pm everyday

Dementia UK - 0800 888 6678 - 9am to 9pm weekdays, 9am - 5pm weekends

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These are the signs and symptoms of dementia - and the stages explained - Yorkshire Post

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Manahawkin Woman ‘Scales’ 100 Years With Service, Strength and Determination – The SandPaper

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Catherine Kate Scales (center) has lived in Manahawkin since 1959 and was partly responsible for the development of Stafford Townships first master plan. (Supplied photo)

In 1920, women in the U.S. were given the right to vote, Warren Harding was elected the 29th president, movies were silent and televisions didnt yet exist, the American Civil Liberties Union was founded, Agatha Christies first novel was published, and American football became a professional sport.

Later that year, on Oct. 27, Catherine Kate Scales was born in Jersey City, but as she grew a slight problem arose she was allergic to regular milk.

I didnt like regular milk anyway, she recently said, bursting with laughter, from her home on North Lakeshore Drive in Manahawkin, several weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday. But I was raised on goats milk, and I really believe that has something to do with why Im still around.

Certainly, thats one of several viable possibilities for why Scales has lived through 17 presidencies, 10 decades worth of revolutionary changes throughout the nation, and the immense development of Stafford Township. But lets consider the others for a moment.

I have a vodka and tonic every night before dinner, just one while dinner is cooking, she said, sounding quite proud of that fact. Ive had a lot of good luck, too. Under a lot of different circumstances, things have worked out for me.

So well, shes rarely entered a hospital.

I went to the hospital for childbirth and to have a bunion taken off my foot, she said. I dont go to hospitals except to visit people. I have my tonsils, appendix and all that good stuff. Ive been healthy. I really think it was the goats milk.

Stafford Township Mayor Greg Myhre presents a proclamation and key to the city to Kate Scales on her 100th birthday, as family and friends celebrated in a drive-by way. (Supplied photo)

Whatever the reasons for her longevity, whats more fascinating about the woman who once was asked by both the Stafford Republican and Democratic clubs to run for mayor she dismissed that request by telling those who asked she didnt lie well enough to be a good politician is not that shes lived 100 years, but how shes lived through those years.

One of two girls to a mother widowed by the time she was 2 years old, Scales grew up in Jersey City and, not long after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, she made a decision that shocked her mom.

I went into the Navy in 1942, because thats where all the boys were, she said with a chuckle. But we had no boys in the family, and this was my country and we all had stars in our eyes in those days. So, I just joined. I came home and told my mother and she said, You cant do that. I said, Mama, I already did it. I knew youd say no, so I didnt ask you. I was 22 when I went in.

While serving during World War II, she became a celestial navigation instructor for naval pilots and fulfilled the role for two years, 10 months and 11 days.

Somebody said to me at the beginning of my service, Dont volunteer for anything because theyll give you the opposite, so I didnt know anything, she said, a bit of a coy emphasis to the explanation. They needed mechanics someplace out in Oklahoma, so I looked at this list of tools and I said, I think that might be a hammer. I knew what it was, but I wasnt telling them that. I didnt want to be some grease monkey for the Navy. I may as well have stayed home and worked in an office in New York.

After serving with the Navy, Scales did in fact go to work in an office in New York City as a secretary to a very fine gentleman named Howard Book with Reed Roller Bit Co. but not before she graduated with a degree in English literature from Fordham University.

I went to college under the G.I. Bill, she said. I was very grateful for that, because I couldnt have gone to school without it. I wouldnt have been able to afford it. But I had big plans. I was going to work in New York until 40, then go to Cape Cod, teach in the winter and have a boarding house in the summer. That didnt happen.

Instead, she met the man who became her husband, Michael Scales, on a blind date set up by her sisters sister-in-law.

She said, I have this nice gentleman for you, and I said, If hes so nice, why didnt you take him? Whats wrong with him? She said he was too young for her, but he wasnt much younger, Kate recalled. I agreed to meet for a drink in Rockefeller Plaza and I told her not to leave me with him. She introduced us and left. I couldve killed her. She left me with this strange fellow, who happened to be British.

That blind date occurred in 1954 and the couple married in 1956. Three years later, they moved to Manahawkin after the company for which Michael worked, Ciba-Geigy, moved from Pennsylvania to Toms River. Scales has lived on the same street next to Manahawkin Lake since, and even had some influence on the booming development of Stafford Township through the 1960s and 70s.

Kate Scales spent nearly three years as a celestial navigation instructor for the U.S. Navy during World War II. (Supplied photo)

While her husband traveled a lot for his job, Kate got involved within the township, eventually making her way onto the planning board. At the time, the town didnt have a master plan. She ultimately chaired the planning board and was part of the committee that developed the first master plan.

Some gentlemen said to me, Mrs. Scales, they just made you the head of the planning board. How would you like to be addressed? Well, everybody there was friendly, and wed always have coffee and cake during our meetings. Everything was real matey, so I said, Just call me Madam. So, thats what they called me. All of a sudden, I was Madam this and Madam that. It was fun, she said.

But it was an exciting time for the town. At the time, the biggest store was Grants, downtown where the motor vehicle office is now. The town was just coming to life at that point. We did our best with the master plan, and I saw the town grow. It was a really nice time.

Scales also spent time as the night court clerk only temporarily, for about a year, because I couldnt stand doing that for too long, she said and was active with the American Legion, Stafford Historic Society and the historic preservation commission. For a few years, she also served as president of the Republican Club.

At 22, Kate Scales joined the U.S. Navy and didnt tell her mother she had done it until after she signed the paperwork to enlist. (Supplied photo)

All the while, she operated a printing and secretarial service from home while her children grew up and served as a job developer for the local Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program, through which she helped teens get their high school diplomas while working and completing life and skills training during the Reagan administration.

Years later, following her husbands passing, Kate bought and operated an inn on Cape Cod, in West Harwich, for 13 years, before selling it so she could return to Manahawkin full-time to be closer to her grandchildren.

Ive had an interesting life, said Kate, who credits her grandfathers Scottish genetics Thomas Murray was the only postman in New York to complete his mail route during the blizzard of 1888, featured in The New York Times that year for at least some of her strength and longevity. I was always involved with stuff. And I am strong, not stubborn. If I say, I wont, I wont and if I say, I will, I will. But Im still here. I guess thats something special.

On her 100th birthday, family and friends delivered a drive-by celebration orchestrated by her granddaughter Erika in which relatives from as far away as Texas made the trip just to camp out in the backyard, since there wasnt enough space in the house to accommodate many visitors, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Greg Myhre also made a special visit to present a town proclamation recognizing Kates milestone and give her a key to the city.

I didnt see a reason he should have come by, but he did and gave me this key to the city, she said. It was nice of him to do that. I never saw the keys to the city, so it was something to get one. I havent tried to see if it works yet.

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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Manahawkin Woman 'Scales' 100 Years With Service, Strength and Determination - The SandPaper

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15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Live To 100 – Longevity LIVE – Longevity LIVE

Friday, December 4th, 2020

For those who have a family history of chronic diseases, this is great news because it means that you can take control of your future by taking control of your health. Furthermore, you can focus your attention on lifestyle factors that you can control as opposed to the genetics that you cant control.

Seriously, stop it.

The fact is that your favorite snacks, fast food meal, and other processed foods are rich in sugar, salt, and trans fats all of which greatly increase your risk for chronic diseases that include cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

You are what you eat and if you want to be the epitome of longevity, then you need to eat foods that improve your lifespan, not shorten it. Adopting a plant-based diet is a great way to ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs to keep itself healthy in the coming years. Having said that, eating healthy doesnt mean that you need to say goodbye to all of your favorite treats. They can still be enjoyed, just in moderation.

Continue reading here:
15 Things To Stop Doing If You Want To Live To 100 - Longevity LIVE - Longevity LIVE

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