A recently published paper in Science explores the association between helminth infection and pregnancy, finding that different parasitic worms are associated with different effects on women’s fecundity.
Blackwell, Aaron D., et al. “Helminth infection, fecundity, and age of first pregnancy in women.” Science 350.6263 (2015): 970-972.
Infection with intestinal helminths results in immunological changes that influence co-infections, and might influence fecundity by inducing immunological states affecting conception and pregnancy. We investigated associations between intestinal helminths and fertility in women, using 9 years of longitudinal data from 986 Bolivian forager-horticulturalists, experiencing natural fertility and 70% helminth prevalence. We found that different species of helminth are associated with contrasting effects on fecundity. Infection with roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) is associated with earlier first births and shortened interbirth intervals, whereas infection with hookworm is associated with delayed first pregnancy and extended interbirth intervals. Thus, helminths may have important effects on human fertility that reflect physiological and immunological consequences of infection.
Click here for the full article
Original Research Article
Effects of wildfire disaster exposure on male birth weight in an Australian population.
M. H. O’Donnell and A. M. Behie
Evol Med Public Health published 15 November 2015, 10.1093/emph/eov027
Click here for the full article.
Evidence suggests that stress during pregnancy changes fetal development.
Pregnant women who experienced an Australian wildfire had male babies
with higher-than-usual birth weights. These changes might result from
evolutionary adaptations that enhance child or maternal survival and may
reflect the impact of stress on maternal metabolism.
An article in EMPH by Andrew Read and Robert Woods may be the first to document the application of evolutionary principles to make important clinical decisions about a specific patient. Woods, Robert J., and Andrew F. Read. “Clinical management of resistance evolution in a bacterial infection: a case study.” Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health (2015): eov025.
Abstract: We report the case of a patient with a chronic bacterial infection that could not be cured. Drug treatment became progressively less effective due to antibiotic resistance, and the patient died, in effect from overwhelming evolution. Even though the evolution of drug resistance was recognized as a major threat, and the fundamentals of drug resistance evolution are well understood, it was impossible to make evidence-based decisions about the evolutionary risks associated with the various treatment options. We present this case to illustrate the urgent need for translational research in the evolutionary medicine of antibiotic resistance.
A related article in PNAS outlines the opportunities for the clinical application of the principles of evolutionary ecology in the clinic.
All articles published in EMPH in 2015 will be considered for the $5,000 George C Williams Prize. Starting in January 2016, publication charges for this open-access journal will be $2,000 for nonmembers, and $1,000 for members of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health.
Original Research Article
- Claire E. Margerison-Zilko,
- Julia M. Goodman,
- Elizabeth Anderson,
- Alison Gemmill,
- and Ralph A. Catalano
Post-term birth as a response to environmental stress: The case of September 11, 2001EMPH (2015) 2015: 13 first published online January 16, 2015
Abstract Full Text (HTML) Full Text (PDF)
This new blog by Prof. Mel Greaves and brought to you by the British Journal of Cancer, provides a forum for the discussion of how an evolutionary perspective is changing thinking about cancer. Highly recommended.
Ducasse, Hugo, Beata Ujvari, Eric Solary, Marion Vittecoq, Audrey Arnal, Florence Bernex, Nelly Pirot, et al. 2015. “Can Peto’s Paradox Be Used as the Null Hypothesis to Identify the Role of Evolution in Natural Resistance to Cancer? A Critical Review.” BMC Cancer 15 (1): 792. doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1782-z.
Carcinogenesis affects not only humans but almost all metazoan species. Understanding the rules driving the occurrence of cancers in the wild is currently expected to provide crucial insights into identifying how some species may have evolved efficient cancer resistance mechanisms. Recently the absence of correlation across species between cancer prevalence and body size (coined as Peto’s paradox) has attracted a lot of attention.
READ MORE »
Clinical management of resistance evolution in a bacterial infection: a case study
Robert J Woods and Andrew F Read
Evol Med Public Health published 10 October 2015, 10.1093/emph/eov025
This chronic bacterial infection evolved extensive resistance, killing
the patient. Evolutionary science is insufficiently developed to better
manage such life-threatening evolution.
This week’s Newsweek cover story
is about evolution and cancer. It features the work of Joshua Schiffman, who co-authored a 2003 article reporting the first major study of evolutionary biology in the medical curriculum and has since become a leading evolution and cancer researcher.
The article is linked here.
Baba Brinkman, heralded by the New York Times as a “must-see off-Broadway performance” has devoted his time and energy to education through the use of rap music. Beginning with performances on the Canterbury tales, he has expanded his repertoire to include full CD’s on: climate change, evolution, medicine and others. These songs teach detailed and accurate scientific principles through humor, visuals, and art.
Through a special arrangement, Baba will be at Anímo Leadership High School on Wednesday September 30th, from 2-3pm. His science-rap performance will teach students about evolution in a way that is both fun and engaging.
Click here for Baba Brinkman’s youtube channel and here for one of his evolutionary-themed raps.
Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, UCLA Professor and author of “Zoobiquity”, will also be visiting Anímo Leadership High School on February 8th, for the evolutionary-medicine themed “Darwin Day”.
Living in the far north exposes humans to selection forces that select for specific genes with large effects…and major implications for diet recommendations.
Fumagalli, Matteo, Ida Moltke, Niels Grarup, Fernando Racimo, Peter Bjerregaard, Marit E. Jørgensen, Thorfinn S. Korneliussen et al. “Greenlandic Inuit show genetic signatures of diet and climate adaptation.” Science 349, no. 6254 (2015): 1343-1347.
The indigenous people of Greenland, the Inuit, have lived for a long time in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, including low annual temperatures, and with a specialized diet rich in protein and fatty acids, particularly omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). A scan of Inuit genomes for signatures of adaptation revealed signals at several loci, with the strongest signal located in a cluster of fatty acid desaturases that determine PUFA levels. The selected alleles are associated with multiple metabolic and anthropometric phenotypes and have large effect sizes for weight and height, with the effect on height replicated in Europeans. By analyzing membrane lipids, we found that the selected alleles modulate fatty acid composition, which may affect the regulation of growth hormones. Thus, the Inuit have genetic and physiological adaptations to a diet rich in PUFAs.
Also see a very nice related story by Carl Zimmer in the NYTimes.
Carl Zimmer provides fine NYTimes coverage of a recent BioEssays paper by Boddy, Wilson-Sayres, Fortuno, and Aktipis, titled “Fetal microchimerism and maternal health: A review and evolutionary analysis of cooperation and conflict beyond the womb” The paper is open access.
“A Pregnancy Souvenir: Cells That Are Not Your Own” by Carl Zimmer in The New York Times
Recently, a team of pathologists at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands carried out an experiment that might seem doomed to failure.
They collected tissue from 26 women who had died during or just after pregnancy. All of them had been carrying sons. The pathologists then stained the samples to check for Y chromosomes.
Essentially, the scientists were looking for male cells in female bodies. And their search was stunningly successful. READ MORE »