A survey of bat species in the United Kingdom has revealed new coronaviruses, some belonging to the same group as SARS-CoV-2. Previously, research on coronaviruses focused on China and southeast Asia, where bats carry the closest known relatives of SARS-CoV-2. However, this study suggests that Europe and the UK have been overlooked. Genetic sequencing of bat samples uncovered nine coronaviruses, including sarbecoviruses and one related to the virus responsible for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Laboratory studies found that one UK sarbecovirus could infect human cells but with less efficiency than SARS-CoV-2. Although the current UK coronaviruses pose a low risk of spreading to humans, experts warn that further adaptations could occur, potentially leading to future spillover events and pandemics. (Nature)
Indian manufacturer Marion Biotech, accused by Uzbekistan of poisoning 19 children with cough syrups, reportedly used a toxic industrial-grade ingredient instead of the pharmaceutical version, according to sources. The company purchased propylene glycol (PG) from Maya Chemtech India, a trader not licensed to sell pharmaceutical-grade materials. Marion did not test the ingredient before using it in the syrups. The cough syrups, Ambronol and DOK-1 Max, were found to contain unacceptable levels of toxins diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG), not meant for human consumption. Last year, similar incidents occurred in Gambia and Indonesia, leading to an international inquiry into the pharmaceutical supply chain. Uzbekistan and Gambia have imposed restrictions on Indian pharmaceutical exports. (Reuters)
Anthony Kelly, a former Marine, experienced chronic pain and developed an opioid addiction after a roofing accident. His addiction led him to seek pain management clinics in Florida and eventually turn to a combination of heroin and cocaine. Over a decade later, Kelly now manages his substance use disorder with buprenorphine, a prescription medication that reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. He receives the medication from a mobile health clinic in Baltimore, which offers free services to opioid users, including wound care, hepatitis C treatment, and naloxone. This harm reduction approach aims to keep people alive while they navigate the challenges of recovery. Baltimore has been proactive in addressing the opioid crisis, providing access to naloxone and implementing mobile treatment programs. Despite the ongoing struggle, individuals like Kelly find hope in these initiatives and strive to regain stability in their lives. (Associated Press)
ABSTRACT: Biodiversity is declining globally in response to multiple human stressors, including climate forcing. Nonetheless, local diversity trends are inconsistent in some taxa, obscuring contributions of local processes to global patterns. Arctic tundra diversity, including plants, fungi, and lichens, declined during a 15-year experiment that combined warming with exclusion of large herbivores known to influence tundra vegetation composition. Tundra diversity declined regardless of experimental treatment, as background growing season temperatures rose with sea ice loss. However, diversity declined slower with large herbivores than without them. This difference was associated with an increase in effective diversity of large herbivores as formerly abundant caribou declined and muskoxen increased. Efforts that promote herbivore diversity, such as rewilding, may help mitigate impacts of warming on tundra diversity. (Science)
New research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan suggests that octopuses may experience a form of dreaming during their sleep. The study confirms that octopuses undergo two stages of sleep, including an “active sleep” stage characterized by rapid changes in skin texture and patterning. This active stage shows similarities to REM sleep observed in humans and other vertebrates, which is associated with dreaming. The researchers studied 29 octopuses and found that they displayed different reactions depending on their wakefulness, quiet sleep, or active sleep stages. When deprived of sleep, the octopuses showed an increased rate of active sleep, indicating a self-regulating control. Neural activity recordings during active sleep showed a strong correlation with wakeful brain activity, and the octopuses also exhibited rapid transitions through skin patterns seen during wakefulness. While the study does not prove that octopuses dream, it provides evidence supporting the idea. (The Guardian)
A fossilized leg bone dating back 1.45 million years may provide the earliest evidence of ancient humans engaging in cannibalism. The bone, described in a study published in Scientific Reports, displays cut marks resembling butchery marks found on animal bones from the same era. The marks, located in a strategic spot for muscle removal, suggest that the intention was to carve up the carcass for consumption. Researchers concluded that the cuts were made by stone tools, ruling out other processes. While previous evidence of hominin butchery has been found in Europe and Africa, this finding provides insights into ancient human behavior and food-gathering habits. However, without knowledge of the species to which the bone belongs, it is unclear whether the cut marks indicate cannibalism. Further research involving more fossils is needed to gain a deeper understanding of early hominin behavior. (Nature)
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)