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Bats may hold a secret to longevity – and other health news you may have missed

A protein found in bats could have ‘therapeutic potential’ for humans. (Getty Images)

It’s been a busy week in health news – from saying goodbye to the COVID public health crisis and global health emergencies to ushering in a new era of over-the-counter birth control pills.

But that’s not the only thing that happened in the wellness area. Here’s what else you might have missed from Yahoo News partners.

Research shows that bats may hold the key to the fight against inflammatory diseases and aging

In a study published Thursday, researchers identified a protein carried by bats that could explain their long life and insensitivity to certain viruses — with possible “therapeutic potential” for humans.

Bats have “exceptionally long lifespans for small mammals”; some survive for as long as 40 years, the Telegraph reported. In addition, they can live with viruses that would otherwise be harmful to humans, such as SARS, Ebola and Zika.

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A team of scientists in Singapore and China said this is due to a modified version of a protein called ‘bat ASC2’, which suppresses the inflammatory response in bats. When researchers genetically modified mice to carry the protein, the mice showed the same inflammatory defenses as bats. Human cells tested in a laboratory setting also became more resilient.

Lin-Fa Wang, who led the research, told the Telegraph that bat ASC2 could be the key to longevity and also to reducing virus deaths in humans.

“It may not be the only factor, as biology is never as simple as one molecule or one pathway. But the overall dampening of inflammation most likely plays a role in aging health in bats,” Wang said.

New blood donation rules mean more gay men in the US can donate

Taking blood from a patient's arm. Taking blood from a patient's arm.

All potential blood donors – regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation – will now be screened with a new questionnaire that assesses their risk of HIV. (Getty Images)

Under new guidelines finalized Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships can now donate blood without abstaining from sex, the Associated Press reported. The FDA announced plans for the change in January, and the new approach will be implemented by blood banks starting this week.

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It is the latest in a number of blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men that have been rolled back in recent years. In 2015, the FDA removed a lifetime ban on donations and replaced it with a one-year abstinence from donating blood. In 2020, that one-year requirement was shortened to three months.

Instead of a blanket ban, all potential donors will now be screened with a new questionnaire evaluating their risk of HIV. “Potential donors who report having had anal sex with new partners in the past three months will not be allowed to donate until a later date,” according to the Associated Press.

Initial guidance for teens and social media

Young people look at their mobile phones. Young people look at their mobile phones.

Teens should receive training in “social media literacy,” says the American Psychological Association. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the American Psychological Association (APA) has released its first advisory aimed at parents, teachers, technology companies and others on guiding teens’ social media use, Fox News reported.

The Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence includes a number of recommendations, such as establishing ‘social media limits and boundaries’, providing teenagers with training in ‘social media literacy’ and reducing adolescents’ risk of exposure to ‘illegal or psychologically inappropriate behavior’. on social media that can lead to self-harm. For children ages 10 to 14, the APA’s guidance recommends adults review their children’s social media and offer ongoing discussion and coaching about the content.

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“Help your child understand that people are selective about sharing only what they want you to see online, so you get a composite view of their lives and appearances,” Mitch Prinstein, APA’s chief science officer, said in a question and response session on the organization’s website.

Prinstein said about half of teens report at least one sign of problematic social media use, with warning signs such as “not being able to stop even if they want to, lying to continue using social media and not being able to keeping track of daily routines, school work’. or relationships,” according to Fox News.

Artificial intelligence could lead to faster, more accurate diagnosis of a heart attack

Drawing of the human cardiac system.Drawing of the human heart system.

Advances in AI could ease pressure on emergency departments. (Getty Images)

A study published Thursday suggests that an algorithm developed using artificial intelligence (AI) could provide faster, more accurate diagnoses of heart attacks.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that, compared to current testing methods, “The algorithm called CoDE-ACS was able to rule out a heart attack in more than double the number of patients, with an accuracy of 99.6%,” the Independent reported.

The algorithm was developed using data from 10,038 patients in Scotland who had a suspected heart attack. Using patient information such as age, gender, medical history and troponin levels, it produced a probability score from 0 to 100 to predict whether the individual had had a heart attack.

Experts say the ability to rule out heart attacks more quickly could ease pressure on emergency departments and reduce hospital admissions by distinguishing patients whose pain is the result of a heart attack from those whose symptoms are caused by something less serious.

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