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Chimpanzees are altruistic like humans

Chimpanzees, are also capable of altruism, which was previously regarded as unique to humans, a new research has shown.

This, the study authors report, is in contrast to previous studies that positioned chimpanzees as reluctant altruists and led to the widely held belief that human altruism evolved in the last six million years only after humans split from apes.

In the current study, Yerkes researchers Victoria Horner, Frans de Waal, and their colleagues focused on offering seven adult female chimpanzees a choice between two similar actions: one that rewards both the “actor,” the term used in the paper for the lead study participant, and a partner, and another that rewards only the actor/chooser herself.

All seven chimpanzees showed an overwhelming preference for the prosocial choice.
The study also showed the choosers behaved altruistically especially towards partners who either patiently waited or gently reminded them that they were there by drawing attention to themselves.

The chimpanzees making the choices were less likely to reward partners who made a fuss, begged persistently or spat water at them, thus showing their altruism was spontaneous and not subject to intimidation.

Virus that kills HIV-infected cells created

A scientist has created a virus that hunts down HIV-infected cells, which could herald a breakthrough toward curing the disease.

Dr Pin Wang’s lentiviral vector latches onto HIV-infected cells, flagging them with what is called “suicide gene therapy” — allowing drugs to later target and destroy them.

“If you deplete all of the HIV-infected cells, you can at least partially solve the problem,” said Wang, chemical engineering professor with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

The lentiviral vector approach to targeting HIV has the advantage of avoiding collateral damage, keeping cells that are not infected by HIV out of harm’s way.

Wang said such accuracy has not been achieved by using drugs alone. So far, the lentiviral vector has only been tested in culture dishes and has resulted in the destruction of about 35 percent of existing HIV cells.

Brain stimulation implants benefit Parkinson’s patients

A study has found that deep brain stimulation implants may continue to benefit patients with Parkinson’s disease for 10 years after the surgery.

One decade after receiving implants that stimulate areas of their brains, patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) appeared to sustain improvement in motor function, although part of the initial benefit wore off mainly because of progressive loss of benefit in other functions, according to the study.

Several previous clinical studies have shown deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) for PD to be effective and safe.

“The motor improvement induced by STN stimulation has been reported to be sustained for up to five to eight years after surgery, although part of the initial benefit progressively deteriorates, mainly because of worsening axial signs,” write the researchers.

Motor assessments were conducted before implantation and at one, five and 10 years.
At 10 years, the combination of medication and STN-DBS was associated with significantly better motor, resting and action tremor, bradykinesia (slowed movement) and rigidity scores.

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