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More humans are growing an extra blood vessel in our arm that ‘feeds’ our hands, study shows

Picturing how our species might appear in the far future often invites wild speculation over stand-out features such as height, brain size, and skin complexion. Yet subtle shifts in our anatomy today demonstrate how unpredictable evolution can be.



a man holding his hand up: Man doing a forearm stretch.


© Provided by Live Science
Man doing a forearm stretch.

Take something as mundane as an extra blood vessel in our arms, which going by current trends could be common place within just a few generations.

Researchers from Flinders University and the University of Adelaide in Australia have noticed an artery that temporarily runs down the center of our forearms while we’re still in the womb isn’t vanishing as often as it used to.

That means there are more adults than ever running around with what amounts to be an extra channel of vascular tissue flowing under their wrist.

“Since the 18th century, anatomists have been studying the prevalence of this artery in adults, and our study shows it’s clearly increasing,” says Flinders University anatomist Teghan Lucas.

“The prevalence was around 10 percent in people born in the mid-1880s compared to 30 percent in those born in the late 20th century, so that’s a significant increase in a fairly short period of time, when it comes to evolution.”

The median artery forms fairly early in development in all humans, transporting blood down the center of our arms to feed our growing hands.

At around 8 weeks, it usually regresses, leaving the task to two other vessels – the radial (which we can feel when we take a person’s pulse) and the ulnar arteries.

Anatomists have known for some time that this withering away of the median artery isn’t a guarantee. In some cases, it hangs around for another month or so.

Sometimes we’re born with it still pumping away, feeding either just the forearm, or in some cases the hand as well.

To compare the prevalence of this persistent blood channel, Lucas and colleagues Maciej Henneberg and Jaliya Kumaratilake from the University of Adelaide examined 80 limbs from cadavers, all donated by Australians of European descent.

The donors raged from 51 to 101 on passing, which means they were nearly all born in the first half of the 20th century.

Noting down how often they found a chunky median artery capable of carrying a good supply of blood, they compared the figures with records dug out of a literature search, taking into account tallies that could over-represent the vessel’s appearance.

The fact the artery seems to be three times as common in adults today as it was more than a century ago is a startling find that suggests natural selection is favoring those who hold onto this extra bit of bloody supply.

“This increase could have resulted from mutations of genes involved in median artery development or health problems in mothers during pregnancy, or both actually,” says Lucas.

We might imagine having a persistent median artery could give dextrous fingers or strong forearms a dependable boost of blood long after we’re born. 

UK hit by new virus test failing, finds 16,000 extra cases

LONDON (AP) — The British government has launched an investigation into how nearly 16,000 new coronavirus infections went unreported as a result of a technical glitch, a failing that could have given fresh impetus to an outbreak that critics say is already out of control.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons that 51% of those previously missed cases have now been contacted by contact tracers. Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Those testing positive were told of their status, but their contacts were not traced, Public Health England said, a failing that could have allowed the virus to flourish.


“This is a serious issues which is being investigated fully,” Hancock said. “Now it is critical we work together to put it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The “technical issue” is thought to have stemmed from file limitations on the Excel spreadsheets that the government used for its test-and-trace program.

An opposition Labour lawmaker said the failing showed how “shambolic” the Conservative government’s plan to fight the pandemic was.

The unreported cases were added to the government’s daily new infections total over the weekend, boosting Saturday’s number to 12,872 cases and Sunday’s to 22,961. That compared to an average of 7,000 new cases a day the four days before.

The number of new cases reported Monday fell to 12,594, but given the adjustments related to the missing cases, it was impossible to figure out a trend.

For the test-and-trace program to work well, contacts should be notified as soon as possible. So authorities’ failure to inform people potentially exposed to the virus could lead to many more positive cases and the need for the government to impose further unwanted restrictions on everyday life.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s spokesman on health issues, slammed the government for its latest failing on testing “at one of the most crucial points in the pandemic.”

As a result, he said around 48,000 contacts of infected people may have been “blissfully unaware they’ve been exposed to COVID, potentially spreading this deadly virus at a time when hospital admissions are increasing and we are in the second wave.”

“This isn’t just a shambles — it’s so much worse than this — and it gives me no comfort to say this, but it’s putting lives at risk,” Ashworth added.

The reporting error is just the latest problem with Britain’s test-and-trace system, which is seen as crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and reducing the need for further limits on social interaction. Lawmakers from all parties have previously criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government for a shortage of testing capacity and delays in notifying people of their test results.

Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, called the glitch “very disappointing.”

“For the test, track and trace system to have a real impact on reducing transmission of COVID-19, it is essential that test results

Nurse navigator to give patients extra resource during cancer treatment at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital

Published


With the addition of a new nurse navigator, patients at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital will have one more resource to count on as they navigate treatment.

Jessica Miller, who also operates as the clinical nurse for the center, started in her new role in March.

The role of the nurse navigator isn’t a new one within the health care field but is new to the cancer center, which is part of the CHI St. Luke’s health systems.


The St. Luke’s The Woodlands location is an extension of the flagship Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center located in the Texas Medical Center.

As the nurse navigator, Miller helps facilitate the care for new patients who have been recently diagnosed.



“When patients come through our doors, the whole process of getting a diagnosis can be very daunting, just very stressful,” Miller said. “The nurse navigator helps get the patient started.”

Before this role was created at the cancer center, the many aspects of the nurse navigator job were being filled by various other staff members. Now, the coordination and education for the patient are more concentrated.


The nurse navigator helps educate patients about treatment, coordinate with necessary treatments like CT scans, coordinate with referrals to other departments, and helps provide access to resources like social workers or financial assistance. Miller acts as a liaison and advocate for her patients. The central point between doctors, nurses, and caregivers.


Miller started her nursing career in Colorado at an acute care placement center for trauma and oncology. She moved to The Woodlands about three years ago and has seen the cancer center go through several changes in structure and location. One of the things she loves about being the nurse navigator is being able to help her patients understand their treatment options through education.

“Being that advocate for them was something I really enjoyed and I think they saw that and asked if I would be interested in the position,” Miller said of