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Archive - Apr 28, 2018

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Horses Can Read and Remember People’s Emotional Expressions, and Can Adapt Their Behavior Accordingly

A study by the Universities of Sussex and Portsmouth in the UK reveals that horses can read and then remember people's emotional expressions, enabling them to use this information to identify people who could pose a potential threat. Published on April 26, 2018, in Current Biology, the paper “Animals Remember Previous Facial Expressions That Specific Humans Have Exhibited” is authored by a team of psychologists, co-led by Professor Karen McComb, from the University of Sussex, and Dr. Leanne Proops, from the University of Portsmouth - both specialists in animal behavior. The research team conducted controlled experiments in which domestic horses were presented with a photograph of an angry or happy human face and several hours later saw the actual person who had exhibited the expression, now in an emotionally neutral state. This short-term exposure to the photograph of a person's facial expression was enough to generate clear differences in subsequent responses upon meeting that individual in the flesh later the same day. The study found that despite the humans being in a neutral state during the live meeting, the horses' gaze direction revealed that they perceived the person more negatively if they had previously seen them looking angry in the photograph rather than happy. Previous research, including at University of Sussex, has shown that animals tend to view negative events with their left eye due to the right brain hemisphere's specialization for processing threatening stimuli (information from the left eye is processed in the right hemisphere). Importantly, in the current experiment, the humans did not know which photographs the horses had previously seen, to avoid any risk of behaving differently themselves.

Increasing Number of Added NK Cells Boosts Effectiveness of Combined Cell Therapy & Virotherapy for Treating Cancer

Doctors could be a step closer to finding the most effective way to treat cancer with a double whammy of a virus combined with boosting the natural immune system, according to a pioneering study by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The Ohio State University. "The findings of this research are very exciting because it helps unravel the complex yin and yang relationship between the natural cancer-fighting power intrinsic to our immune system and externally added cancer-killing cells that are given as a therapy. It's very significant because it shows, contrary to recent scientific claims, that virotherapy can be combined with cell therapy for a positive effect," said the study's corresponding author Balveen Kaur, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Research in the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Previous scientific wisdom has discredited combining virotherapy and externally added natural killer (NK) cell therapy to the body's NK cells, but there could be clear cancer-fighting benefits – if sufficient external NK cells are deployed to destroy the tumor and stop its spread, as revealed in the paper that was published online on April 23, 2018 in PNAS. The article is titled “Complex Role of NK Cells in Regulation of Oncolytic Virus–Bortezomib Therapy.” To reach this conclusion, physicians devised a mathematical formula unlocking the complex interactive relationship between externally introduced viruses and NK cells in addition to the immune system's existing NK cells to calculate cancer cell-killing potency. The mathematical modeling was able to predict how a virus-treated tumor would respond to NK cell therapy, depending on the number of NK cells introduced to the tumor.