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Humans Best Friend – Dog And Human Genomes Evolved Together

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The bond between dogs and humans is ancient and enduring. Dogs snuggle up to us at night, gambol by our side during daily walks, and flop adoringly at our feet when we crash on our couches. But new research shows that the connection runs deeper than you might think. It is embedded in our genes.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and several international institutions found that several groups of genes in humans and dogs—including those related to diet and digestion, neurological processes, and disease—have been evolving in parallel for thousands of years.

This parallel evolution was likely driven by the shared environments of humans and dogs, wrote the authors in a study published May 14 in the journal Nature Communications.

“As domestication is often associated with large increases in population density and crowded living conditions, these ‘unfavorable’ environments might be the selective pressure that drove the rewiring of both species,” the authors surmise.

For example, living in crowded conditions with humans may have conferred an advantage on less aggressive dogs, leading to more submissive canines and eventually to the pets whose puppy-dog eyes gaze at us with unconditional affection. (Related: “Opinion: We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us.”)

The study authors suggest that dogs were domesticated 32,000 years ago; that’s much earlier than current estimates, which place domestication at around 15,000 to 16,000 years ago. (Related: “Ancient Dog Skull Shows Early Pet Domestication.”)

“Thirty-two thousand is a little bit old,” said Bob Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. Although he does acknowledge that the timing of a split between wolves and dogs has varied widely—ranging between 6,000 and 120,000 years ago.

The study authors also proposed that dog domestication originated in Southeast Asia, rather than the Middle East, as others have suggested.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Humans Best Friend – Dog And Human Genomes Evolved Together

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Health & Science

Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

A controversial deal between tech giant Google and the National Health Service (NHS) will allow artificial intelligence units access to 1.6 million confidential medical records. Since 2014, Google has partnered with several scientists in an attempt to understand human health, but a new report reveals the data gathering goes far beyond what was originally anticipated.

According to documents obtained by the New Scientist, the data sharing agreement between Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust gives access to the sensitive healthcare data of millions of NHS patients. The chilling and wide-reaching deal allows DeepMind access to the medical records of the 1.6 million people passing annually through the three London hospitals owned by the Trust — Barnet, Chase Farm, and the Royal Free.

The Google-owned A.I. firm announced in February it was working with the NHS to build an app called Streams — intended to help hospitals monitor patients with kidney disease. However, the new information has revealed that the extent of the data being shared goes much further and includes logs of day-to-day hospital activity, records of the location and status of patients, and even logs of who visits them and when.

Results of pathology and radiology tests are also shared, as is information from critical care and accident and emergency departments. In addition, DeepMind’s access to the centralised records of all NHS hospital treatments in the U.K. means the tech company can access historical data from the last five years, all while receiving a continuous stream of new data.

At the same time, DeepMind is developing a platform called Patient Rescue, which uses hospital data streams to build tools to carry out analysis and support diagnostic decisions. The New Scientist explained how it works:

Comparing a new patient’s information with millions of other cases, Patient Rescue might be able to predict that they are in the early stages of a disease that has not yet become symptomatic, for example. Doctors could then run tests to see if the prediction is correct.

While the Royal Free has not yet responded to the question of what — if any — opt-out mechanisms are available to patients, the New Scientist suggests this is unlikely to be a straightforward process. Despite the agreement stating Google cannot use the data in any other part of the company’s business, many will be seriously wary of the access the online tech giant now has to the confidential data of millions of people.

As the New Scientist wrote:

Data mining is the name of the game in the burgeoning field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and there’s no company in the world better at that than Google.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

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