Face of first Brit revealed: Blue eyes, dark hair and skin

The face of ‘Cheddar Man’, Britain’s oldest nearly complete skeleton at 10,000 years old, is revealed for the first time and with unprecedented accuracy by UCL and Natural History Museum researchers. The results indicate that Cheddar Man had blue eyes, dark coloured curly hair and ‘dark to black’ skin pigmentation. Previously, many had assumed that he had reduced skin pigmentation. The discovery suggests that the lighter pigmentation now considered to be a defining feature of northern Europe is a far more recent phenomenon. The pioneering work was carried out by a team of UCL scientists, Natural History Museum Human Evolution and DNA specialists, and the world’s foremost prehistoric model makers, for a new Channel 4 documentary, First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 Year Old Man. In one of their most challenging human DNA projects to date — no British individual this […]

Study suggests that your stress can also change your partners brain

Stress transmitted from others can actually change the brain, scientists at the University of Calgary have found. In a new paper published in Nature Neuroscience, the authors report the results of research on mice that were exposed to brief electroshocks on their feet and then reunited with a sibling. Jaideep Bains, professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Calgary and one of the study authors, said previous research has shown that stress changes the brain and that it can be, in a sense, contagious. “We thought, if stress causes long-lasting changes in the brain of the person who was stressed, or the mouse, and stress can be transmitted, does the transmitted stress cause the same changes in the brain?” Bains said in an interview Wednesday. The answer was yes — brain cells in both animals changed to become […]

Precisely timed brain stimulation improves memory

Precisely timed electrical stimulation to the left side of the brain can reliably and significantly enhance learning and memory performance by as much as 15 percent, according to a study by a team of University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists published in Nature Communications. It is the first time such a connection has been made and is a major advance toward the goal of Restoring Active Memory, a U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored project aimed at developing next-generation technologies to improve memory function in veterans with memory loss. “Our study has two novel aspects,” said Youssef Ezzyat, a senior data scientist in Penn’s psychology department in the School of Arts and Sciences and lead author on the paper. “We developed a system to monitor brain activity and trigger stimulation responsively based on the subject’s brain activity. We also identified a novel target for applying […]

Ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may harm future fertility of baby girls

Pregnant women who take the pain killer ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may be reducing the store of eggs in the ovaries of their daughters. Researchers have found the first evidence in human ovarian tissue that exposure to ibuprofen during the crucial first three months of foetal development results in a “dramatic loss” of the germ cells that go into making the follicles from which female eggs develop. The germ cells either died or failed to grow and multiply at the usual rate. The authors of the study, which is published today (Friday) in Human Reproduction1, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, say that their findings raise concerns about the long-term effects of ibuprofen on the future fertility of women exposed to the pain killer when in their mothers’ wombs. “Baby girls are born with a […]

Breastfeeding reduces hypertension risk

A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension indicates that women who breastfeed more children, and for longer periods of time, are less likely to suffer from hypertension after they reach menopause. This is less true of obese women, however. Elevated blood pressure is the greatest single risk factor for disease and mortality. Evidence from epidemiologic data has also shown the beneficial effects of breastfeeding on the health of infants and their mothers. It has been well documented that long-term breastfeeding is associated with reduced children’s allergies, celiac disease, obesity, and diabetes mellitus. However, the effects of breastfeeding on maternal health have been little studied compared with the effects on the children. Several studies consistently found that absent breastfeeding or premature discontinuation was associated with increased risks of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular diseases. However few […]

Protecting cassava from disease? There’s an app for that

Cassava is one of the developing world’s most important crops. Its starchy roots and leaves are a staple food for more than 500 million people in Africa each day. And Africa produces half of the world’s total cassava output; the continent’s main growers are the Congo, Côte d’lvoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. It’s also climate resilient, as it is predicted to improve yield in higher temperatures. Its role as a staple food will become ever more important, then, as climate change continues to take hold. But cassava, like many other crops, is vulnerable to viruses and other plant diseases. These diseases can affect cassava yields, cost farmers money, and threaten food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Two diseases, cassava mosaic disease and cassava brown streak disease, have become the largest constraints to cassava production and food security in sub-Saharan Africa resulting in losses of […]

Study finds bacteria in milk linked to rheumatoid arthritis

A strain of common bacteria in milk and beef may be a trigger for developing rheumatoid arthritis in people who are genetically at risk, according to a new study from the University of Central Florida. A team of UCF College of Medicine researchers has discovered a link between rheumatoid arthritis and Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis, known as MAP, a bacteria found in cows. The bacteria can be spread to humans through the consumption of infected milk, beef and produce fertilized by cow manure. The UCF researchers are the first to report this connection between MAP and rheumatoid arthritis in a study published in the Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology journal this week. The study, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Florida Legislative, was a collaboration between Saleh Naser, UCF infectious disease specialist, Dr. Shazia Bég, rheumatologist at UCF’s […]

Arts and humanities in medical school promote empathy and inoculate against burnout

Medical students who spend more time engaging in the arts may also be bolstering the qualities that improve their bedside manner with patients, according to new research from Tulane and Thomas Jefferson universities. The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, finds that students who devoted more time to the humanities in medical school had significantly higher levels of positive physician attributes like empathy, tolerance of ambiguity, wisdom and emotional intelligence while at the same time reporting lower levels of adverse traits like burnout. “The humanities in medical school curricula have often been pushed to the side, but our data suggests that exposure to the arts are linked to important personal qualities for future physicians,” said senior author Marc Kahn, MD, MBA, MACP, the Peterman-Prosser Professor and Senior Associate Dean in the Tulane University School of Medicine. “This is the first study to show […]