London Underground Map Gets a Redesign to Help Riders With Anxiety

Transport for London
Transport for London

For some London commuters, riding the Underground is a tedious part of the daily grind. For riders with claustrophobia or anxiety disorders, it can be a source of dread. In an effort to make travel accessible to more passengers, Transport for London, the city transportation authority, has published a Tube map identifying routes that bypass long stretches of tunnels, The Independent reports.

Though London’s subway system is called the Underground, most stops are located above street level. It is possible to ride the transit network across London without venturing beneath the city for uninterrupted periods. Even so, some residents prone to anxiety or panic attacks in tight spaces avoid the Tube altogether.

The new design aims to make commuting a more tolerable experience for nervous riders. In the updated map, sections of lines located underground are highlighted in gray, making them easier to navigate around. Nicky Lidbetter, chief executive of the advocacy group Anxiety UK, said in a statement:

"This new map is an excellent resource for those wishing to avoid journeys where there are tunnels, serving as a great pre-journey planning aid and increasing access to public transport. I sincerely hope that the map will encourage those with claustrophobia and/or panic attacks who have previously avoided this form of public transport out of fear to re-consider their use of the Tube."

Section of London Underground map.
Transport for London

Section of London Underground map.
Transport for London

Opening up its services to more customers has become a top priority for Transport for London. In April, it made "please offer me a seat" badges available to riders with physical ailments that often go unnoticed. Riders who tested the program said it made 72 percent of their journeys easier.

[h/t Independent]

FDA Recalls Thyroid Medications Due to Contamination Risk

iStock
iStock

Hypothyroid medications manufactured by Westminster Pharmaceuticals have been recalled after it was discovered that one of the company’s Chinese suppliers failed to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, CNN reports.

The oral tablets contain levothyroxine (LT4) and liothyronine (LT3), which are both synthetic hormones used to treat thyroid conditions.

The medicine was recalled as a precaution after it was discovered during a 2017 FDA inspection that the Chinese supplier in question, Sichuan Friendly Pharmaceutical Co., was not practicing good manufacturing practices.

However, patients with serious thyroid conditions shouldn’t throw out their pills just yet. No adverse effects from the medication have been reported, and the risk of not taking the medication outweighs the risk of taking a recalled pill.

According to the FDA, “Because these products may be used in the treatment of serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product.”

For more information on the specific lots and products in question, visit the FDA’s website.

[h/t CNN]

A 'Zombie Gene' Might Be the Reason Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

iStock
iStock

When it comes to cancer rates in the animal kingdom, elephants are an anomaly. As Popular Science notes, cancer should be more common among larger species, but with elephants, that simply isn’t the case. Only about 5 percent of elephants die from cancer, compared to 11 to 25 percent of humans.

In a new study, published in Cell Reports, University of Chicago researchers found what’s believed to be the genetic source of elephants’ cancer immunity. Elephants, like all mammals, have a gene called LIF that is known to suppress tumors. Humans have one copy of this gene, but elephants have 10 copies, which have developed over 80 million years of evolution. However, only one of those copies, called LIF6, is functional in elephants.

The other LIF copies are essentially dead because they lack a specific piece of DNA to make them function. At some point during the evolutionary process, the LIF6 gene copy turned back on, but scientists don’t know why or when this occurred. This “zombie gene” helps kill mutated cells, in true Night of the Living Dead fashion.

“This reanimation of LIF6 occurred perhaps over 59 million years,” Joshua Schiffman, who studies cancer in elephants but was not involved in the study, told Popular Science. “That’s an amazingly long period of time for nature to modify and perfect an anticancer mechanism.”

Scientists aren’t yet sure how this could be applied to cancer research in humans, but they say it’s a promising start and a creative approach to the problem. While these findings are still fresh and need to be duplicated, it raises the possibility of creating a drug that mimics the function of LIF6.

[h/t Popular Science]

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