It’s been a busy week in health news — from the public health farewell to COVID and global public 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 missed from Yahoo News partners.
Study says bats may hold key to fighting inflammatory disease and aging
In a study published Thursday, researchers identified a protein carried by bats that could explain their longevity and impermeability to certain viruses — with possible “therapeutic potential” for humans.
Bats have “exceptionally long lifespans for small mammals” with some surviving up to 40 years, the Telegraph reported, and they can live with viruses that would otherwise harm humans, such as SARS, Ebola and Zika.
A team of scientists in Singapore and China said this is thanks 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 study, told the Telegraph that bat ASC2 could also hold the key to longevity and reduced mortality from viruses in humans.
“It may not be the only factor, as biology is never as simple as one molecule or one pathway. But overall dampening of inflammation most likely plays a role in aging health in bats,” Wang said.
New blood donation rules allow more gay men in the US to donate
Under new guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships are now allowed to 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.
It is the latest of several blood donation restrictions for gay and bisexual men that have been reversed in recent years. In 2015, the FDA dropped a lifetime ban on donations and replaced it with a one-year abstinence requirement before donating blood. In 2020, that requirement was reduced from one year to three months.
Instead of a blanket ban, all potential donors will now be screened with a new questionnaire that evaluates their risks of HIV. “Prospective donors who report having anal sex with new partners in the past three months will not be allowed to donate until a later date,” the Associated Press said.
First guidance issued for teens and social media
On Tuesday, the American Psychological Association (APA) released its first piece of advice for parents, teachers, tech companies and others about guiding teens’ social media use, Fox News reported.
The health advice on social media use in adolescence includes a number of recommendations, such as establishing “limits and boundaries of social media”, training teens in “social media literacy” and reducing the risk of adolescent 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 advice recommends that adults monitor their children’s social media and offer ongoing discussion and coaching about the content.
“Help your child understand that people are selective about sharing only what they want you to see online by providing a curated picture of their life and appearance,” said APA’s chief science officer, Mitch Prinstein, in a Q&A at 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 when they want to, lying to keep using social media and not keeping up with daily routines, schoolwork or relationships,” Fox News said.
Artificial intelligence could lead to a faster, more accurate diagnosis of a heart attack
A study published Thursday suggests that an algorithm developed using artificial intelligence (AI) could provide faster and more accurate heart attack diagnoses.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that compared to current testing methods, a “The algorithm called CoDE-ACS was able to rule out heart attack in more than double the number of patients, with an accuracy of 99.6%,” the Independent reported.
The algorithm was developed based on data from 10,038 patients in Scotland who had a suspected heart attack. Using patient data such as age, gender, medical history and troponin levels, it produced a probability score of 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 relieve pressure on emergency departments and reduce hospitalizations by differentiating patients whose pain is due to a heart attack from those whose symptoms are caused by something less serious.