Blood test to spot lung cancer relapse hailed as ‘new hope’


Scientists screened their blood for circulating tumour DNA - bits of DNA that had "broken off" from a tumour
Scientists screened their blood for circulating tumour DNA – bits of DNA that had “broken off” from a tumour 

Scientists have developed a blood test which spots the relapse of lung cancer in patients, up to a year before the disease can be detected by CT scans and X-rays.

The groundbreaking TRACERx study, funded by Cancer Research UK, identified the cause of relapse of the disease and how it spreads, in a discovery that could lead to earlier treatment for patients.

By analysing tumours from 100 lung cancer patients, researchers at medical research centre Francis Crick Institute found that those containing a higher proportion of “unstable chromosomes” – those which cause genetic chaos and allow the tumour to evolve – were four times more likely to encounter a relapse or die within two years.

 Genetically diverse tumours are harder to treat as they are more likely to spread and become drug-resistant.

In a study using 96 of those 100 patients, scientists screened their blood for circulating tumour DNA – bits of DNA that had “broken off” from a tumour – in order to uncover defects present in the patient’s cancer.

They used this information to analyse blood samples from 24 patients who had undergone surgery, and were able to identify more than 90% of cancer cases likely to return, up to a year before other clinical methods, such as CT scans or an X-ray, could detect the illness.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the UK, causing more than 20% of cancer deaths, according to Cancer Research UK.

Scientists also compared levels of tumour DNA in patients’ blood before and after post-surgery chemotherapy in the study, which was published in science journal Nature.

 They found that the cancer returned when levels of tumour DNA in the blood were not reduced after the treatment, showing that the tumour had become partially resistant to the chemotherapy.

The findings could pave the way for the development of new drugs to target resistant parts of lung cancer tumours.

Dr Christopher Abbosh, lead author of the study, said: “In the future patients could be offered personalised treatments that target parts of the cancer responsible for relapse following surgery.

“Using circulating tumour DNA, we can identify patients to treat even if they have no clinical signs of disease, and also monitor how well therapies are working.

“This represents new hope for combating lung cancer relapse following surgery, which occurs in up to half of all patients.”

TRACERx is the first of its kind to trace the evolution of the cancer in real time, from diagnosis to its death.

Professor Karen Vousden, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, said: “These findings could also help us to identify how lung cancers respond to therapy, building a bigger picture of the disease and potentially pointing the way to developing new treatments and, crucially, saving more lives.”

Source:www.telegraph.co.uk

Cryogenically frozen brains will be ‘woken up’ and transplanted in donor bodies within three years, claims surgeon


Dr Xiaoping Ren and Professor Sergio Canavero
Dr Xiaoping Ren and Professor Sergio Canavero, who believes a brain will be transplanted in the near future 

People who have had their brains cryogenically frozen could be ‘woken up’ within three years, a pioneering Italian surgeon has claimed.

Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant within 10 months and then wants to begin trials on brain transplants.

If the procedures are successful, he believes that frozen brains could be thawed and inserted into a donor body.

 Hundreds of people who are dying or paralysed have had their bodies or brains cryogenically preserved in the hope that medical science will be able to bring them back to life and cure their conditions.

Although many experts are sceptical that huge organs like the brain can be thawed without damage, Prof Canavero said he believes the first frozen head could soon be resurrected.

Prof Canavero was talking to the German magazine Ooom
Prof Canavero was talking to the German magazine Ooom

Speaking to the German magazine Ooom, he said he planned to awaken patients frozen by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation which is based in Arizona.

“We will try to bring the first of the company’s patients back to life, not in 100 years. As soon as the first human head transplant has taken place, i.e. no later than 2018, we will be able to attempt to reawaken the first frozen head,” said Prof Canavero.

“We are currently planning the world’s first brain transplant, and I consider it realistic that we will be ready in three years at the latest.

“A brain transplant has many advantages. First, there is barely any immune reaction,which means the problem of rejection does not exist.

 “The brain is, in a manner of speaking, a neutral organ. If you transplant a head with vessels, nerves, tendons and muscles, rejection can pose a massive problem. This is not the case with the brain.”
The head transplant gives us the first insight into whether there is an afterlife, a heaven, a hearafter.Professor Sergio Canavero

However Prof Canavero admitted that there could be physical and psychological problems which come with putting a brain in an entirely different body.

“What many be problematic, is that no aspect of your original external body remains the same. Your head is no longer there; your brain is transplanted into an entirely different skull.

“It creates a new situation that will certainly not be easy.”

However British scientists are skeptical about whether frozen organs as complex as the brain could ever be fully restored. When the High Court last year ruled that teenage girl could be cryogenically preserved,experts said the chances of revival were “infinitesimal”.

Clive Coen, Professor of Neuroscience at King’s College London, said: “The advocates of cryogenics are unable to cite any study in which a whole mammalian brain, let alone a whole mammalian body, has been resuscitated after storage in liquid nitrogen.

“Even if reviving that body were possible – it isn’t – all the complicated organs would have been wrecked from the start, and warming them up again would wreck them further.

“Irreversible damage is caused during the process of taking the mammalian brain into sub-zero temperatures. The wishful thinking engendered by cryogenics companies is irresponsible.”

Russian man set for world’s first head transplant

 Prof Canavero is working with a Chinese team of doctors led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, of Harbin Medical Centre who helped perform the first successful hand transplantation in the US. The technology to carry out the world’s first head transplant is expected to be in place by the end of the year, and then the team will then need to find a suitable donor body.
 Although Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, who suffers spinal muscular atrophy, had volunteered to become the first head transplant patient, the team have since said the first trial is likely to be carried out on someone who is Chinese, because the chance of a Chinese donor body will be higher. Prof Canavero said a ‘high number’ of people had volunteered for the transplant.

Last year, the team announced they had successfully carried out a head transplant on a monkey, and released images from the procedure.

Last year scientists claimed to have carried out the first head transplant using a monkey 
Last year scientists claimed to have carried out the first head transplant using a monkey 

Prof Canavero said if the human head transplant works, it could have fundamental implications for human consciousness and even religion.

“In a few months we will sever a body from a head in an umprecedented medical procedure. In this phase, there is no life activity, not in the brain, not anywhere else in the body.

“If we bring this patient back to life we will receive the first real account of what actually happens after death. The head transplant gives us the first insight into whether there is an afterlife, a heaven, a hearafter.

“If we are able to prove that our brain does not create consciousness, religions will be swept away forever. They will no longer be necessary, as humans no longer need to be afraid of death.  We no longer need a Catholic Church, no Judaisim, and no Islam because religions in general will be obsolete.

“It will be a turning point in human history.”

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk

 

Google ‘makes people think they are smarter than they are’ 


 Woman using laptop, technology, internet, internet security

Searching the internet for information gives people a ‘widely inaccurate’ view of their own intelligence, Yale psychologists believe

Search engines like Google or Yahoo make people think they are smarter than they actually are because they have the world’s knowledge at their fingertips, psychologists at Yale University have found.

Browsing the internet for information gives people a ‘widely inaccurate’ view of their own intelligence and could lead to over-confidence when making decisions, experts warn.

In a series of experiments, participants who had searched for information on the internet believed they were far more knowledgeable about a subject that those who had learned by normal routes, such as reading a book or talking to a tutor. Internet users also believed their brains were sharper.

“The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world’s knowledge at your fingertips,” said lead researcher Matthew Fisher, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale University.

“It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet.”

Online searches made students feel smarter 

More than 1,000 students took part in a range of experiments aimed at gauging the psycholgocal impact of searching on the internet.

In one test, the internet group were given a website link which gave the answer to the question ‘how does a zip work’ while a control group were given a print-out of the same information.

When they two groups were quizzed later on an unrelated question – ‘why are cloudy nights warmer?’ the group who had searched online believed they were more knowledgeable even though they were not allowed to look up the correct answer.

Psychology professor Frank Keil, of Yale University, said the study showed that the cognitive effects of “being in search mode” on the internet were so powerful that people still feel smarter even when their online searches did not help.

And the growing use of smartphones may exacerbate the problem because an internet search is always within reach.

“With the internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know,” added Mr Fisher.

The researchers also believe that an inflated sense of personal knowledge also could be dangerous in the political realm or other areas involving high-stakes decisions.

“In cases where decisions have big consequences, it could be important for people to distinguish their own knowledge and not assume they know something when they actually don’t,” Mr Fisher added.

“The Internet is an enormous benefit in countless ways, but there may be some trade-offs that aren’t immediately obvious and this may be one of them.

“Accurate personal knowledge is difficult to achieve, and the Internet may be making that task even harder.”

The study was published by the American Psychological Association. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Dead could be brought ‘back to life’ in groundbreaking project


A man lies in a coma

Scientists believe that a combination of therapies could stimulate regeneration 

Agroundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs.

Indian specialist Dr Himanshu Bansal, working with Biotech companies Revita Life Sciences and Bioquark Inc, has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord – the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat.

The team believes that the brain stem cells may be able to erase their history and re-start life again, based on their surrounding tissue – a process seen in the animal kingdom in creatures like salamanders who can regrow entire limbs.

Dr Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark Inc. said: “This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime.

“We just received approval for our first 20 subjects and we hope to start recruiting patients immediately from this first site – we are working with the hospital now to identify families where there may be a religious or medical barrier to organ donation.

“To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness.

“We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”

A doctors looks at an MRS scan
The patients will be monitored using MRI scans for several months 

The ReAnima Project has just received approval in India, and the team plans to start recruiting patients immediately.

The first stage, named ‘First In Human Neuro-Regeneration & Neuro-Reanimation’ will be a non-randomised, single group ‘proof of concept’ and will take place at Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand India and is being led by Dr Himanshu Bansal of Revita Life Sciences.

Dr Bansal said he had already had some success with two patients in the Gulf and Europe.

“We have even offered the same protocol to a couple of brain dead subjects in Gulf and Europe,” added Dr Bansal.

” They are still in minimal conscious state but who knows that they may come out and have reasonable conscious useful human life.

“We are now trying to create a definitive study in 20 subjects and prove that the brain death is reversible. This will open the door for future research and especially for people who lose their dear ones suddenly.”

The peptides will be administered into the spinal cord daily via a pump, with the stem cells given bi-weekly, over the course of a 6 week period.

Dr Pastor added: “It is a long term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study – but it is a bridge to that eventuality.”

Brain stem death is when a person no longer has any brain stem functions, and has permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe.

A person is confirmed as being dead when their brain stem function is permanently lost.

However, although brain dead humans are technically no longer alive, their bodies can often still circulate blood, digest food, excrete waste, balance hormones, grow, sexually mature, heal wounds, spike a fever, and gestate and deliver a baby.

Recent studies have also suggested that some electrical activity and blood flow continues after brain cell death, just not enough to allow for the whole body to function.

And while human beings lack substantial regenerative capabilities in the central nervous system, many non-human species, such as amphibians and certain fish, can repair, regenerate and remodel substantial portions of their brain and brain stem even after critical life-threatening trauma.

“Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” added Dr Sergei Paylian, Founder, President, and Chief Science Officer of Bioquark Inc.

Commenting on the trial, Dr Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist at the Cardiff University’s Centre for Medical Education said: “While there have been numerous demonstrations in recent years that the human brain and nervous system may not be as fixed and irreparable as is typically assumed, the idea that brain death could be easily reversed seems very far-fetched, given our current abilities and understanding of neuroscience.

“Saving individual parts might be helpful but it’s a long way from resurrecting a whole working brain, in a functional, undamaged state.”

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Cyanide suicide of Oxford academic after she revealed she was transgender


An Oxford University chemist poisoned herself with cyanide after telling her family and friends she was transgender, an inquest heard.

Erin Shepherd took her own life despite being apparently pleased with her transition from man to woman, Oxford Coroner’s Court was told.

Oxford 

Erin Shepherd, an Oxford University researcher, was found by firemen who forced their way into her flat

The 27-year-old was found dead in her flat in East Oxford after sending a suicide note via email to her parents and two sisters.

The researcher was found by firemen who forced their way into her flat, after shutting down the whole street alongside police and paramedics.

She was discovered near a container of white powder, which was confirmed as cyanide.

This was a great shock. Those closest to her did not foresee this.Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter described her suicide in January as a “tragic case'”, adding: “This was a great shock.

“Those closest to her did not foresee this. Things seemed to be going in the right direction. Very sadly, something caused her to decide to take her own life.”

Mr Salter read evidence from Miss Shepherd’s doctor, Richard Baskerville, who said she registered in 2015 under her former name, David Shepherd.

Mr Baskerville’s statement added: “She had recently come out as transgender. She had an extensive circle of friends and was pleased with her progress in transitioning. Her death was a sudden and tragic event.”

Miss Shepherd had completed her DPhil in chemistry at Corpus Christi College and had recently started as a paid academic in the chemistry department.

She had changed her name and was taking speech therapy to adopt a new identity.

Oxford cyanide
The property in Oxford where Erin Shepherd  was found. CREDIT: INS

Detective Sergeant Kevin Parsons, of Oxford CID, said Miss Shepherd accessed the university labs at 6am on the day she died, and it was likely to be around that time that she took the cyanide. At the inquest, he said: “She had struggled with her gender identity for most of her life.

 “She was doing well and showing no signs of unhappiness.”

He told the court how Miss Shepherd was unable to attend school as a teenager after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, but worked hard to achieve.

Police were called to Miss Shepherd’s home by her sister Sophie Shepherd, after she received an email entitled ‘I am so sorry’.

The court heard she rang her sister urging her to flush the cyanide down the toilet, to no avail.

The university released a statement that said Miss Shepherd was “an outstanding chemist” whose death “greatly saddened” her friends.

Mr Salter concluded Miss Shepherd died of suicide.

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Physicists create mind-bending ‘negative mass’ that accelerates backwards and could help explain black holes


A rubidium metal sample

Scientists have created a fluid with “negative mass” which they claim can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos.

Washington State University physicists explained that this mass, unlike every physical object in the world we know, accelerates backwards when pushed.

The phenomenon, which is rarely created in laboratory conditions, shows a less intuitive side of Newton’s Second Law of Motion, in which a force is equal to the mass of an object times its acceleration (F=ma).

 Our everyday world sees only the positive effect of the law: if you push an object, it moves away from you.

“That’s what most things that we’re used to do,” said Michael Forbes, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington. “With negative mass, if you push something, it accelerates toward you.”

To create the negative matter the WSU team cooled rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero, creating what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate in which particles move very slowly and behave like waves.

First predicted theoretically by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein, a Bose-Einstein condensate is a group of atoms cooled to such a low temperature that there is hardly any movement left in the group. At that point, the atoms begin to clump together becoming identical, from a physical point of view, and the whole group starts behaving as though it were a single atom.

Once scientists reached that stage, they used lasers to kick atoms back and forth until they started spinning backwards. When the rubidium rushes out fast enough, if behaves as if it had negative mass.

 “Once you push, it accelerates backwards,” said Mr Forbes, who acted as a theorist analysing the system. “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

The physicist explained that the ground-breaking aspect of their research is the “exquisite control” they have of the negative mass using their technique.

The heightened control gives researchers a new tool to engineer experiments to study similar behaviours in astrophysics, such as neutron stars, and cosmological phenomena like black holes and dark energy, where experiments are impossible.

“It provides another environment to study a fundamental phenomenon that is very peculiar,” Mr Forbes said.

What is a black hole?

Nasa artist’s impression of debris from a star being flung away from a black hole

A black hole is a region in space with a gravitational field so intense that even light can not get out. Because light can’t escape, black holes can’t be seen. They’re detected by the difference in behaviour of stars nearer to the black hole. Stellar black holes are formed by the collapse of the centre of a massive star. This collapse also causes a supernova, or an exploding star, that blasts part of the star into space.

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk

 

Magic mushrooms lift severe depression in trial


Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin, which is found in magic mushrooms, was administered to depression patients in a pill 

Ahallucinogenic chemical found in magic mushrooms has successfully lifted severe depression in previously untreatable patients.

Scientists at Imperial College London induced intense psychedelic trips in 12 people using high doses of the banned substance psilocybin.

A week after the experience all the volunteers were depression-free, and three months later five still had no symptoms of the condition.

I wouldn’t want members of the public thinking they can treat their own depressions by picking magic mushroomsDr Robin Carhart-Harris, Imperial College London

Published in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, the study welcomes the results as “promising, but not completely compelling”.

Its authors are now seeking further funding from the Medical Research Council and other bodies to carry out fuller trials.

They conceded, however, that the use of a placebo control, a crucial component of thorough clinical trials, would be difficult as it would be obvious who was having a hallucinogenic experience and who was not.

The psilocybin is believed to cause relief from depression by targeting receptors in the brain and disrupting the Default Mode Network, which is responsible for sense of self and is overactive in depressed people.

However, the scientists did not rule out that the psychedelic trip could have caused an “awakening”, of the kind achieved by spiritual teaching, which also helped lift the depression.

Professor David Nutt
Professor David Nutt said current regulations made clinical trials extremely difficult

An estimated 350 million people worldwide are affected by the disease and the annual cost to the economy in England is thought to be around £7.5 billion, according to government figures.

About one in ten patients are resistant to treatment.

Despite the promising results, the researchers urged people not to try magic mushrooms themselves as a cure for depression.

Lead author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, said: “Psychedelic drugs have potent psychological effects and are only given in our research when appropriate safeguards are in place, such as careful screening and professional therapeutic support.

“I wouldn’t want members of the public thinking they can treat their own depressions by picking their own magic mushrooms.

“That kind of approach could be risky.”

The volunteers in the trial had the psilocybin administered orally in capsules and were then closely monitored.

 Professor David Nutt, who also took part in the research, criticised the “Kafkaesque” tangle of regulations and licencing requirements that had forced the team to wait 32 months before being allowed to conduct the trial.

“It cost £1,500 to dose each person, when in a sane world it might cost £30,” he said.

“It is important that academic research groups try to develop possible new treatments for depression as the pharmaceutical industry is pulling out of this field.

“Our study has shown psilocybin is safe and fast-acting, so may, if administered carefully, have value for these patients.”

Professor Nutt, who was sacked as the Government’s drugs advisor in 2009 for his outspoken views, urged the Home Secretary to re-designate psilocybin from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act to better enable further clinical trials.

Amanda Feiling, from the Beckley Foundation, which also took part in the research, said: “For the first time in many years, people who were at the end of the road with currently available treatments reported decreased anxiety, increased optimism and an ability to enjoy things.

“This is an unparalleled success and could revolutionise the treatment of depression.”

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Scientists turn spinach leaf into working heart tissue


Worcester Polytechnic Institute Grows Heart Tissue on Spinach Leaves
Spinach is good for your heart 

Researchers have managed to turn a spinach leaf into working heart tissue and are on the way to solving the problem of recreating the tiny, branching networks of blood vessels in human tissue.

Until now, scientists have unsuccessfully tried to use 3D printing to recreate these intricate networks.

Now, with this breakthrough, it seems turning plants with their delicate veins into human tissue could be the key to delivering blood via a vascular system into the new tissue.

 Scientists have managed in the past to create small-scale artificial samples of human tissue, but they have struggled to create it on a large scale, which is what would be needed to treat injury.

Researchers have suggested that eventually this technique could be used to grow layers of healthy heart muscle to treat patients who have suffered a heart attack.

Watch the video. URL:

Plants and animals of course have very different ways of transporting chemicals around the body.

However, the networks by which they do so are quite similar.

The authors of the study are publishing their findings in research journal Biomaterials in May

The scientists, from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute wrote: “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.”

In order to create the artificial heart, the scientists stripped the plant cells from the spinach leaves, sending fluids and microbeads similar to human blood cells through the spinach vessels and then “seeded” the human cells which are used to line blood vessels into it.

 Glenn Gaudette, professor of biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said:  “We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising.

“Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field.”

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Why long-distance runners make the best partners


Male long-distance runners are not only fitter than most they are likely to have the best genes

 Long distance runners like Mo Farah are likely to have good genes
Long distance runners like Mo Farah are likely to have good genes
Women searching for a father for their children should pick long-distance runners as they are more likely to have stronger sex drives and higher sperm counts, Cambridge University has found.

Just a day after marathon runners were shown to be smarter, it also seems that endurance athletes have higher ‘reproductive potential’ and are a good bet when choosing a mate.

Researchers say that good runners are likely to have had ancestors who were excellent hunters and would therefore have had the pick of the females, creating a biological advantage for their descendants and passing on the best genes.

The researchers studied 542 runners at the Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham, noting down their finish times and recording the length of their fingers.

Previous studies have shown that men whose ring finger is longer than their index finger were exposed to more testosterone in the womb which increases sperm count and sex drive, boosts heart health and conveys manly characteristics such as facial hair and a deeper voice.

They found that the 10 per cent of men with the most masculine digit ratios were, on average, 24 minutes and 33 seconds faster than the 10 per cent of men with the least masculine digit ratios, suggesting that those who were better runners also had increased fertility.

“The observation that endurance running ability is connected to reproductive potential in men suggests that women in our hunter-gatherer past were able to observe running as a signal for a good breeding partner,” said the study’s lead author Dr Danny Longman.

“It was thought that a better hunter would have got more meat, and had a healthier – and larger – family as a consequence of providing more meat for his family.

“But hunter-gatherers may have used egalitarian systems with equal meat distribution as we see in remaining tribes today. In which case more meat is not a factor, but the ability to get meat would signal underlying traits of athletic endurance, as well as intelligence – to track and outwit prey – and generosity – to contribute to tribal society. All traits you want passed on to your children,” he said.

The most successful prehistoric men were likely to have been persistence hunters who basically stalked their prey until it gave up from sheer exhaustion.

“Humans are hopeless sprinters but are fantastically efficient long-distance runners, comparable to wolves and wild coyotes,” added Dr Longman.

“You can still see examples of persistence hunting in parts of Africa and Mexico today. Hunters will deliberately choose the hottest time of day to hunt, and chase and track an antelope or gnu over 30 to 40 kilometres for four or five hours.

“The animal recovers less and less from its running until it collapses exhausted and is easy to kill.”

The correlation was also found in women, but was much more pronounced in men, suggesting a stronger evolutionary selection in men for running ability.

The 10 per cent of women with the most masculine digit ratios were, on average, 11 minutes and 59 seconds faster than the 10 per cent with the least masculine.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology and is published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

The science of sexiness: why some people are just more attractive


Aiden Turner starring in a BBC drama
With his dashing good looks and symmetrical features, Aiden Turner has set hearts afflutter in Poldark  

A new study suggests that long-distance runners are more attractive because they have greater levels of testosterone which makes them more manly and fertile.

But there are other biological and evolutionary triggers which are constantly drawing us to certain individuals, even if we don’t realise it is happening. Scientists in Geneva discovered that determining whether we are attracted to someone is one of the most complex tasks that the brain undertakes. Here are the scientific secrets of attraction:

Symmetry

Charles Darwin once wrote: “It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any universal standards of beauty with respect to the human body.”

 However recent research suggests that there are universal agreements about beauty which hold true across all cultures and even throughout the animal kingdom.

Probably the most important is facial symmetry. Having a face which is equal on both sides is a biological advert which tells prospective partners that good genes will be found in this body.

Lopsidedness is thought to reflect how development in the womb has been derailed by general poor health, bad DNA, alcohol or tobacco use.

Facial symmetry is also linked to agreeableness, extraversion and conscientiousness, so good looking people generally find it easier to make friends and hold down jobs.

It is why so many people are choosing plastic surgery to straighten noses, and even-up lopsided grins. However, biologically, they are cheating their partners, as they will still pass on their wonky genes no matter what they look like from the outside.

And the importance of symmetry does not stop at facial features.

Studies have also shown that women partnered to men with symmetrical bodies have the most orgasms, and those with symmetrical breasts are more fertile than those less evenly endowed.

Even female swallows prefer males with symmetrical tail feathers as they hunt for superior genetic quality and developmental stability.

David Beckham
Symmetrical faces like David Beckham are more attractive 
Finger length

While many women might be looking for the tell-tale signs of a wedding ring, research suggests men’s hands can reveal a whole lot more.

In recent years scientists have discovered that there is an intriguing link between finger length and the levels of testosterone that a man was exposed to while still in the womb.

The longer the ring finger is in comparison with the index finger, the more testosterone was present.

That’s important because high levels of testosterone are linked to high sperm counts, increased fertility, good cardiovascular health and better genes. People with longer ring fingers are also likely to have symmetrical faces.

But before you start looking for men with extraordinarily long ring fingers, bear in mind that Oxford University discovered that they are likely to be more promiscuous. In contrast those whose fingers are a similar length are more likely to seek long-term relationships and stay faithful.

A hand
A longer ring finger indicates increases testosterone 
Blonde hair

This one stumped even Darwin, who tried to discover why gentlemen prefer blondes, and eventually gave up, after finding there was no overall preference for the fairer sex.

The blonde hair and blue eye combination found in Caucasians is thought to have evolved among northern European tribes around 11,000 years ago.

For tribes who were venturing ever further north with the retreating ice sheets, being blonde would have bestowed an evolutionary advantage. The loss of pigmentation in the skin allows deeper penetration of ultraviolet light needed to synthesise vitamins which were essential for good health. So blondes were more likely to be healthier and live longer.

Some archaeologists suggest that it was a time of great rivalry when men were often killed and women had to compete fiercely for partners. It is thought that Palaeolithic hunters chose blondes because they stood out from their rivals and were more likely to be healthy.

Many women who are blonde go darker as they age, so blonde hair is also viewed as an indicator of youth, and sexual vitality.

And, intriguingly, Caucasian blondes usually have slightly higher oestrogen levels than brunettes and are likely to exhibit finer infantile facial features such as a smaller nose, smaller jaw, pointed chin, narrow shoulders, smooth skin and less body hair.

However a recent study which attempted to determine the most beautiful woman in the world picked a brunette. And a 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, found that brunettes are generally considered more attractive.

Computerized images of a woman and a man
A recent study found brown hair was the most attractive for men and women 
Body shape

Just as there is an ideal ratio for finger length, it seems that humans are programmed to quickly sum up the bodily measurements of a future lover.

Again these are based on genetic clues which we are unconsciously gleaning from bone ratios.

Men prefer a waist-to-hips ratio of 7:10. Hip width and breast size are important factors in fertility, child birth, and rearing, so there’s definitely an evolutionary connection there.

A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 20.85 has been determined as the most attractive weight for a woman. Scarlett Johansson has previously been voted as having the most attractive female figure.

Women are unconsciously looking for a man who has a waist-to-hip ratio of 9:10 and are attracted to a partner with a big jaw, a broad chin, an imposing brow. The angle between their eyes and mouth, cheekbone prominence, and facial length all play a role as well as does facial hair. Most women prefer heavy stubble to either a beard of clean shaven. However men with full beards are viewed as better fathers.

The perfect man should also have body fat of around 12 per cent which is an important indicator of how well the immune system works.

And the limbal ring — the area where the iris meets the white of the eye — is thought to signal youth and health. In a 2011 study, men and women with a dark limbal ring were perceived as more attractive.

Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson has previously been voted as having the most attractive female figure.
Smell

Scientists are divided about whether humans actually emit pheromones – the chemical signals secreted by animals to help find a mate – but we certainly use smell to detect how genetically compatible a partner might be.

Studies have found that we can literally sniff out our immune system match, the person whose genes complement ours, which will give us healthier babies.

In fact, the most compatible partner genetically would be the one who is the least like you. In terms of evolutionary biology it is easy to see the benefit of having one partner who is less susceptible to getting colds or flu while another has greater immunity to measles, for example.

When sniffing t-shirts saturated with men’s sweat, women preferred the smells of men with high levels of testosterone, particularly when they were at peak fertility.

However research by Newcastle University has suggested that the Pill could stop women picking up these important genetic clues because it alters hormones which make the body think it is pregnant. While that stops women getting pregnant it also means they would rather be surrounded by close family members, and so are more attracted to people who are genetically similar. And for choosing a partner, that is dreadful.

A man smelling white cloth
Pheremone dating now exists to help people find their genetic match
Fitting in

Although it might seem like a good idea to stand out from the crowd when playing the mating game, new research suggests it actually pays to look average.

People with “mathematically average” features advertise a more diverse set of genes and better reproductive health, evolutionary biologists say.

“Basically what our brain does is we go around in our environment, picking up people’s faces and making the average out of these faces we see on a daily basis,” Dr. Kang Lee, psychologist at the University of Toronto.

“And because of that, then, we actually have in our head… a representation of the average of the face. So there’s something we have genetically that’s driving us to prefer to look at something that’s average.”

Ideally, you want the distance between your eyes and mouth to be about 36 percent of the length of your face.

And, the distance between your eyes should be 46 percent of your face’s width.

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman has mathematically average features 
The voice and mouth

Men prefer women with high, breathy voices as it signifies youth. Women’s voices tend to get lower as they age. A higher pitched voice is also thought to denote small body size.

Female listeners prefer a male voice that signals a large body size with low pitch.

Men are attracted to women who smile, but it’s not true the other way around.

Research found that smiling females were rated as more attractive, whereas men showing happy emotions were rated as less attractive.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Women should smile to look more attractive.

Source:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/