The Daily Dose: It’s starting to get crowded around Mars; Prozac turns fish into zombies.

The exclusive club of nations that have visited Mars is on the rise. Per Science, “After a half-year journey, China’s Tianwen-1 robotic spacecraft—the country’s first interplanetary mission—today successfully entered orbit around Mars, the China National Space Administration confirmed. The arrival was first reported by amateur radio signal observers, as China declined to provide real-time coverage of the attempt.” China is the sixth country or space agency to send a spacecraft to the Red Planet.; The previous day, the United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter became the fifth country to make the journey successfully.

The 20th anniversary of the publication of the first draft of the human genome in 2001 has prompted a closer look at whether the reality of the sequenced genome matched the promise. An article in Nature looked at increased scientific research collaborations, the discovery of “superstar” genes, a better understanding of non-coding regions of DNA, and improvements in drug discovery.

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Prescription drugs polluting waterways has been a long-time problem. All kinds of chemicals are known to do significant harm to fish populations. A recent study investigated the effects of Prozac on fish. According to Science, “Researchers have found that long-term exposure to the drug makes guppies act more alike, wiping out some of the typical behavioral differences that distinguish them. That could be a big problem when the medication—technically named fluoxetine—washes into streams and rivers, potentially making fish populations more vulnerable to predators and other threats.” Prozac zombies explains a lot.

Yet more evidence suggesting that ethic and socio-economic factors play key roles in the onset of disease, communicable and non-communicable. In this case, researchers looked patients with Type-2 diabetes in New Zealand. They tested indigenous populations and those of European descent. According to the paper in Lancet Global Health, “Despite a similar temporal trend (decreasing mortality and increasing hospital admissions) across the three ethnic groups, Māori and Pacific patients had consistently higher hospital admission rates than European patients. Māori but not Pacific patients had higher adjusted IRRs for all-cause mortality (1·96 [95% CI 1·80–2·14]), cardiovascular mortality (1·93 [1·63–2·29]) and cancer mortality (1·64 [1·40–1·93]) rates compared with European patients.” You can add this study to the ever-growing list of papers highlighting what can be called disease inequality.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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