friends posing at the camera

DAILY DOSE: Abortion goes on trial in the U.S.; Evolutionary benefits of having friends.


The United States Supreme Court is set to head arguments widely viewed as representing abortion rights in America. While it is not certain how the justices will rule, Republics/Conservatives have a clear majority. Per the Associated Press, “As the U.S. Supreme Court hears a Mississippi case that could topple abortion rights nationwide, the state’s only abortion clinic is busier than ever: Volunteers continue to escort patients into the bright pink building while protesters outside beseech women not to end their pregnancies.” Abortion rights may take a pretty fatal hit during the next few days.


Women have played a significant role in Alzheimer’s drug development. An article in FierceBiotech takes a look at how they have been involved in the fight against the degenerative brain disease. Per FierceBiotech, “This past year has seen a flurry of attention on Alzheimer’s disease, and the medical community is closer than ever to having treatments that could reverse the devastating neurological disorder. But this breakthrough comes after decades of failure and heartbreak for researchers, pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patients and their caregivers. As Fierce Biotech reported the aftermath of the controversial approval of Biogen’s Aduhelm, we discovered a common thread at many of the top pharma companies who are working on the most advanced treatments in development: women.”


The stealth presence of fentanyl in opioid drugs is a major driver of drug-related fatalities. A recent study investigated just how much non-prescribed fetanyl was present in opioids for three years. Their findings are far from encouraging. “In the first 2 full weeks of January 2019, before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 9.6% of specimens from patients receiving MOUD (medication for opioid use disorder) tested positive for nonprescribed fentanyl; the percentage testing positive approximately doubled by the end of 2019 (weeks 51–52) to 26.7% (Figure). During 2020, positive test result rates were highest during March 29–April 11 (weeks 13–14) when the percentage of positive test results peaked at 40.5%. Despite the decline in volume during this period, the overall demographic proportions of patients receiving drug testing remained similar (3), suggesting that substantial shifts in the patient demographics were not driving the increase.”


A recent study in PLOS ONE compared how well we can recall autobiographical memories when were are young and old. According to the authors, “The pattern of findings was broadly consistent with the results of previous investigations, suggesting that (1) the results of the different AM tasks are reliable, and (2) variable age effects in the autobiographical memory literature are at least partly due to the use of different tasks, which cannot be considered interchangeable measures of autobiographical memory ability. The results are also consistent with recent work dissociating measures of specificity and detail in autobiographical memory, and suggest that specificity is particularly sensitive to ageing. In contrast, detail is less sensitive to ageing, but is influenced by retention interval and event type. The extent to which retention interval and event type interact with age remains unclear; further research using specially designed autobiographical memory tasks could resolve this issue.”


How and why animals, especially humans, form friendships has not always been clear from an evolutionary standpoint. Recently, scientists have inched closer to a working theory. As you’d have guessed, it has everything to do with survival. Per the BBC, “From around the age of four, children develop an understanding that other people may have thoughts, interests and feelings that are different to theirs. This emerging capacity, known as Theory of Mind, helps children make friends, says Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends. ‘They become better at imagining someone else’s perspective and this fuels more intimate friendships.’ Children often have a pragmatic view of friendship, forming close bonds with peers in the playground or classroom, says Kennedy-Moore. “It is a ‘love the one you’re with’ approach. The thing that kids have as an advantage over adults is that they are in the room with 25 others in their stage of life,’ she says. ‘In adulthood it takes deliberate effort to find and cultivate friendships.’” Good friends help keep you alive; toxic friends need to be kicked to the curb.

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

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