Science and Medicine

Dawn of Social Networks: Ancestors May Have Formed Ties Based On Shared Attributes

The study's findings describe elements of social network structures that may have been present early in human history

Ancient humans may not have had the luxury of updating their Facebook status, but social networks were nevertheless an essential component of their lives, a new study suggests.

The study’s findings describe elements of social network structures that may have been present early in human history, suggesting how our ancestors may have formed ties with both kin and non-kin based on shared attributes, including the tendency to cooperate. According to the paper, social networks likely contributed to the evolution of cooperation.

“The astonishing thing is that ancient human social networks so very much resemble what we see today,” said Nicholas Christakis, professor of medical sociology and medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of sociology in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and senior author on the study. “From the time we were around campfires and had words floating through the air, to today when we have digital packets floating through the ether, we’ve made networks of basically the same kind.”

“We found that what modern people are doing with online social networks is what we’ve always done—not just before Facebook, but before agriculture,” said study co-author James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego, who, with Christakis, has authored a number of seminal studies of human social networks.

Read more: Dawn of Social Networks: Ancestors May Have Formed Ties Based On Shared Attributes

 

Could Stem Cells Save Snow Leopards?

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Never before have induced pluripotent stem cells, which share many of the useful properties

Scientists have produced embryonic stem-like cells from the tissue of an adult snow leopard for the first time.

Never before have induced pluripotent stem cells, which share many of the useful properties of embryonic stem cells, been generated from a member of the cat family.

The breakthrough raises the possibility of cryopreservation of genetic material for future cloning and other assisted reproduction techniques, and offers hope for the survival of the endangered species, say the Monash University researchers.

The study, published in the journal Theriogenology, was led by graduate student Rajneesh Verma, and was supervised by senior researcher Paul Verma. The researchers used ear tissue samples taken from adult snow leopards at Mogo Zoo, in New South Wales, to generate the iPS cells.

Verma says the breakthrough was significant due to the difficulty of obtaining reproductive cells, or gametes, even from animals in captivity.

Read more: Could Stem Cells Save Snow Leopards?

   

Device Spots Melanoma Cell by Cell

Early detection of melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is critical because melanoma will spread rapidly throughout the body

A new photoacoustic device will detect melanoma long before tumors develop, according to researchers.

Early detection of melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is critical because melanoma will spread rapidly throughout the body.

Now, University of Missouri researchers are one step closer to melanoma cancer detection at the cellular level, long before tumors have a chance to form.

Commercial production of a device that measures melanoma using photoacoustics, or laser-induced ultrasound, will soon be available to scientists and academia for cancer studies.

The commercial device also will be tested in clinical trials to provide the data required to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for early diagnosis of metastatic melanoma and other cancers.

“Using a small blood sample, our device and method will provide an earlier diagnosis for aggressive melanoma cancers,” said John Viator, associate professor of biomedical engineering and dermatology. “We compare the detection method to watching an eight-lane highway full of white compact cars. In our tests, the cancer cells look like a black 18-wheeler.”

Read more: Device Spots Melanoma Cell by Cell

   

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