Michał Słupski



‘Viking’ was a job description, not a matter of heredity, massive ancient DNA study shows
  • By looking closely at viking-related archeological sites, researchers uncovered that non-Scandinavian people joined the vikings as they raided Europe.
  • 442 Viking Age genomes were sequenced, showing that Vikings were more likely to have black hair, and that being a Viking was a job, not a genetic inheritance.
  • Additionally, the routes of Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Vikings were traced using DNA data, uncovering new details about where they traveled.
  • Swedes moved to the Baltics, Poland, then Russia and Ukraine; Danes headed towards England; Norwegians sailed to Ireland, Iceland and Greenland.

Study highlights ‘systematic opposition’ to regulation in tackling NCDs from food industry
  • Public health regulation against unhealthy diets is strongly opposed by the food and drinks lobby.
  • Unhealthy diets lead to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
  • Food industry lobby groups oppose regulations, and also challenge scientific evidence about harmful effects of substances like sugar.
  • Researchers suggest that they are using similar arguments as the tobacco industry lobbies used in the early 2000s.
  • Experts say this study is enlightening, and that industries should not be allowed to dilute public health policy.

Increase in alcohol-industry funded research is a cause for concern, study suggests
  • Since 2009, alcohol companies have been funding increasingly more research - evidenced by almost 13,500 studies funded by the alcohol industry.
  • There are many legitimate fields for research, however there’s a group of these studies that claim health benefits of alcohol, or that substance abuse is a choice.
  • Another problem is that the alcohol industry funds this research through affiliate organisations, and the funding source is often not shown in those papers.
  • Researchers believe that the alcohol industry is too deeply involved, and certain studies should be conducted by independent academics.

Ten minutes of massage or rest will help your body fight stress
  • Short-term treatments like a massage, or just resting for a bit, reduce stress by boosting the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
  • Relaxation therapies show promise as a way to treat stress, but so far scientists haven’t developed a standardised method to test them - until now.
  • This study is the first standardised approach, and the results show that both rest and a massage increase heart rate variability (HRV) - higher HRV = greater relaxation.
  • Researchers say this shows we don’t need professional treatment in order to relax, even a 10-minute rest can boost our PNS and calm us down.
  • These conclusions will enable further experiments to study how different relaxation methods can help people with stress-related conditions like depression.

Stanford engineers reprogram yeast cells to become microscopic drug factories
  • In an effort to overcome drug shortages, engineers transformed a special strain of yeast to make plant-based drug substitutes from sugars and amino-acids.
  • After 3 years and 34 genetic changes to the yeast’s DNA, the yeast now produces tropane alkaloids, naturally found in coca leaves and other plants around the world.
  • The study author has previously engineered yeast to produce another plan-based drug, and co-founded a startup to license the technology.
  • They expect this to be used in full-scale production in about two years.



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