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Study reveals Nehandertals’ gut microbiota, bacteria helping our health

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Bologna [Italy], February 5 (ANI): Neanderthals’ gut microbiota already included some beneficial micro-organisms that are also found in our own intestine, suggest the findings of a new study.
An international research group led by the University of Bologna achieved this result by extracting and analysing ancient DNA from 50,000-year-old faecal sediments sampled at the archaeological site of El Salt, near Alicante (Spain).
Published in Communication Biology, their paper puts forward the hypothesis of the existence of ancestral components of human microbiota that have been living in the human gastrointestinal tract since before the separation between the Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals that occurred more than 700,000 years ago.
“These results allow us to understand which components of the human gut microbiota are essential for our health, as they are integral elements of our biology also from an evolutionary point of view” explains Marco Candela, the professor of the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology of the University of Bologna, who coordinated the study. “Nowadays there is a progressive reduction of our microbiota diversity due to the context of our modern life: this research group’s findings could guide us in devising diet- and lifestyle-tailored solutions to counteract this phenomenon”.
THE ISSUES OF THE “MODERN” MICROBIOTA
The gut microbiota is the collection of trillions of symbiont micro-organisms that populate our gastrointestinal tract. It represents an essential component of our biology and carries out important functions in our bodies, such as regulating our metabolism and immune system and protecting us from pathogenic micro-organisms.
Recent studies have shown how some features of modernity – such as the consumption of processed food, drug use, life in hyper-sanitized environments – lead to a critical reduction of biodiversity in the gut microbiota. This depletion is mainly due to the loss of a set of microorganisms referred to as “old friends”.
“The process of depletion of the gut microbiota in modern western urban populations could represent a significant wake-up call,” says Simone Rampelli, who is a researcher at the University of Bologna and first author of the study. “This depletion process would become particularly alarming if it involved the loss of those microbiota components that are crucial to our physiology”.
Indeed, there are some alarming signs. For example, in the West, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in cases of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
HOW THE “ANCIENT” MICROBIOTA CAN HELP
How can we identify the components of the gut microbiota that are more important for our health? And how can we protect them with targeted solutions? This was the starting point behind the idea of identifying the ancestral traits of our microbiota – i.e. the core of the human gut microbiota, which has remained consistent throughout our evolutionary history. Technology nowadays allows to successfully rise to this challenge thanks to a new scientific field, paleomicrobiology, which studies ancient microorganisms from archaeological remains through DNA sequencing.
The research group analysed ancient DNA samples collected in El Salt (Spain), a site where many Neanderthals lived. To be more precise, they analysed the ancient DNA extracted from 50,000 years old sedimentary faeces (the oldest sample of faecal material available to date). In this way, they managed to piece together the composition of the micro-organisms populating the intestine of Neanderthals. By comparing the composition of the Neanderthals’ microbiota to ours, many similarities aroused.
“Through the analysis of ancient DNA, we were able to isolate a core of microorganisms shared with modern Homo sapiens”, explains Silvia Turroni, a researcher at the University of Bologna and first author of the study. “This finding allows us to state that these ancient micro-organisms populated the intestine of our species before the separation between Sapiens and Neanderthals, which occurred about 700,000 years ago”.
SAFEGUARDING THE MICROBIOTA
These ancestral components of the human gut microbiota include many well-known bacteria (among which Blautia, Dorea, Roseburia, Ruminococcus and Faecalibacterium) that are fundamental to our health. Indeed, by producing short-chain fatty acids from dietary fibre, these bacteria regulate our metabolic and immune balance. There is also the Bifidobacterium: a microorganism playing a key role in regulating our immune defences, especially in early childhood. Finally, in the Neanderthal gut microbiota, researchers identified some of those “old friends”. This confirms the researchers’ hypotheses about the ancestral nature of these components and their recent depletion in the human gut microbiota due to our modern life context.
“In the current modernisation scenario, in which there is a progressive reduction of microbiota diversity, this information could guide integrated diet- and lifestyle-tailored strategies to safeguard the micro-organisms that are fundamental to our health”, concludes Candela. “To this end, promoting lifestyles that are sustainable for our gut microbiota is of the utmost importance, as it will help maintain the configurations that are compatible with our biology”. (ANI)

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WITHOUT DAUGHTERS, SOCIETY AND CULTURE WILL BE DULL: BIG B

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MUMBAI: On the occasion of Daughters’ Day 2021, megastar Amitabh Bachchan highlighted how culture and society are enriched by the presence of daughters. “Happy daughter’s day .. SEPT 26 ..betia na hoti toh sansar, samaj, sanskriti..sab ke sab nadarat (Society, culture will be dull without daughters),” he wrote on Instagram. Alongside the note, Big B posted an adorable picture of him sharing smiles with his daughter Shweta Bachchan.

Amitabh’s gesture has won Shweta’s heart. Responding to the post, Shweta commented, “Love you Papa.” For the unversed, Shweta handles clothing label MxS in association with designer Monisha Jaising. She is also an author. In 2018, she had launched her book ‘Paradise Towers’.

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RADHIKA APTE WRAPS UP SHOOTING FOR ‘FORENSIC’

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NEW DELHI: Weeks after being stationed in the idyllic hills of Mussoorie, actress Radhika Apte has wrapped up shooting for her upcoming film ‘Forensic’ which also stars Vikrant Massey in the lead role.

Taking to her Instagram handle, Radhika posted a hilarious behind-the-shoot picture featuring herself posing with Vikrant who gave a pout pose for the camera with a red coloured lipstick applied on his lips. Sharing the picture, she wrote, “And it’s a film wrap (for me).”

The shooting of ‘Forensic’ went on floors in August. Few weeks after commencing the shoot, the team of ‘Forensic’ including the leading duo Vikrant, Radhika, actors Prachi Desai and Vindu Dara Singh along with the producers Deepak Mukut, Mansi Bagla, and Varun Bagla among others from the crew met the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. ‘Forensic’ is directed by Vishal Furia. 

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RANVEER’S ‘83’ TO RELEASE THIS CHRISTMAS

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The wait is over! Actor Ranveer Singh has confirmed that his much-awaited film ‘’83’ is finally going to release this Christmas. The latest development comes a day after Maharashtra announced that theatres will be opened in the state in October. “It’s time………..83 IN CINEMAS THIS CHRISTMAS,” Ranveer wrote on Instagram.

Directed by Kabir Khan, ‘’83’ revolves around India’’s historical 1983 Cricket World Cup win. It stars Ranveer in the role of the legendary cricketer Kapil Dev, who captained the team in the tournament. It was originally scheduled for theatrical release on April 10, 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Saqib Saleem, Ammy Virk, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Harrdy Sandhu, Pankaj Tripathi, and Sahil Khattar are also a part of the movie, which will release in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

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SHAHID ANNOUNCES NEW RELEASE DATE FOR ‘JERSEY’

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MUMBAI : Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor, on Sunday, announced the release date for his highly anticipated film ‘Jersey’. The sports drama which was earlier slated for a Diwali release will now hit the silver screens on December 31, 2021.

Shahid took to his Instagram handle and shared a still from the film to announce the release date. In the caption, he wrote, “JERSEY releasing 31st December 2021.” Earlier the film was scheduled to release on November 5 but due to the second pandemic lockdown, necessary changes were made. The latest development comes a day after Maharashtra announced that theatres will be opened in the state in October. ‘Jersey’, a Gowtham Tinnanuri directorial film also stars Mrunal Thakur and Pankaj Kapur in pivotal roles. It’s a Hindi remake of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Telugu Film of the same name.

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‘THE STARLING’ IS A DEEPLY PHILOSOPHICAL FILM ABOUT OVERCOMING GRIEF

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Toronto International Film Festival 2021 offered a very interesting lineup of films. On one hand we had crowd pullers like Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ and Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho,’ on the other we had gritty dramas like Antoine Fuqua’s ‘The Guilty’ and Michael McGowan’s ‘All My Puny Seasons’. The festival also screened riveting documentaries like Mohammed Abugeth and Daniel Carsenty’s ‘The Devil’s Drivers’ and Gian Cassini’s ‘Comala’. But, perhaps, the most unique film to screen at the 2021 TIFF was Theodore Melfi’s dramedy ‘The Starling,’ based on a screenplay by Matt Harris. The film stars Melissa McCarthy, Kevin Kline, Chris O’Dowd, and Timothy Olyphant.

After Lilly (McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O’Dowd) lose their infant daughter, grief gets the better of Jack and he enrolls in a psychiatric clinic. But Lilly decides to deal with her guilt while going about her day to day affairs. She keeps her job at the grocery store, continues to look after the family’s expansive rural property, and dutifully visits her husband at the clinic every week. Even as she is trying to come to terms with the reality of her existence a combative bird takes nest beside her quiet home and repeatedly taunts and attacks the grief-stricken Lilly.

During one of the sessions at the psychiatric clinic where Jack is staying, a counselor suggests that Lilly should see a local therapist, Larry (Kevin Kline), after she suspects that Lilly isn’t tending to her own grieving process. But the counselor fails to mention that Larry gave up psychology long ago to become a veterinarian. Things come full circle when Lilly meets Larry as the latter’s veterinarian skills prove quite handy to the former in dealing with the territorial bird wreaking havoc in her garden.

The idea for the unique story stemmed from Matt’s personal experience of working in a mental health hospital to earn a living while attending graduate school for his Master’s. It evolved into a story of an inexplicable tragedy that befalls a couple as they are forced to reconcile their grief and seek a way forward if they are to share a future together. Matt wrote the script with the prize money he won from the prestigious Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting. It made the rounds until director Ted Melfi fell in love with it. After years of near-misses, the film finally got made with its post-production getting completed during the pandemic.

Now, The Starling doesn’t offer a regular story. The ideas and themes that it deals with make it a very complex film. And perhaps that’s why it’s been in the waiting for so long. And if it wouldn’t have been for Ted Melfi it would have remained a screenplay for at least some more years to come. Melfi is known for films such as ‘Winding Roads,’ ‘St. Vincent,’ and ‘Hidden Figures,’ which was nominated for three academy awards including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Brooklyn-born filmmaker has a rare gift to deal with subjects that puts strong women characters in the mix of things. While ‘Winding Roads’ is about three women navigating their respective love lives, ‘Hidden Figures’ tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

In ‘The Starling,’ Melfi has his job cut out to make the rather peculiar character of Lilly look believable. And he does succeed in the task. Of course, the casting choice of his ‘St. Vincent’ star Melissa McCarthy in the role of Lilly proves to be an inspired one. McCarthy is one of the few actors around who are capable of making the audiences laugh and cry at the drop of a hat. I remember recently watching her in the Hulu show ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ wherein during one of the funny scenes she chokes on a grape. McCarthy is so good in the scene that I just couldn’t hold back my laughter in spite of the precarious nature of her situation. From that point onwards in the show whenever she appears on the screen she is able to punctuate the tension. But few minutes into ‘The Starling,’ I totally forgot about the character in ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ and all I really cared about was Lilly. That’s how good an actor McCarthy really is.

‘The Starling’ is a deeply philosophical film that is not easy to watch if you are looking for your regular escapist entertainment. It’s a movie that demands patience. But, patience does have its rewards. McCarthy’s layered performance alone makes it worth a watch. The chemistry between McCarthy and Kline is what holds the movie together. Melfi proves that what’s good on paper can also be successfully translated on the screen as long as a director is willing to back it up and he/she has access to good actors.

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AJAY’S ‘DEFINING MOMENT’ FROM HIS MALDIVES TRIP

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MUMBAI: Actor Ajay Devgn, on Friday, treated his fans with an adorable picture of him sharing smiles with his little son Yug. In the image, the father-son duo can be seen enjoying the sea waves on the boat in the Maldives. The two can also be seen wearing life jackets as the ‘Singham’ actor holds his son close. Ajay has beautifully described the click.

Sharing the photograph on Instagram, he wrote, “Yug wearing his safety jacket, that’s me, when we hit the waters at Maldives…A few of the many defining moments that we had during our short September break.”

Ajay recently went to the ocean paradise for the shoot of “Into The Wild With Bear Grylls” show.

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