Social Media Plays a Big Role in Long-Distance Relationships

Should long-distance couples use social media sites to gauge the health of their relationship? Studies show it's all about how you use the medium.

Social Media Plays a Big Role in Long-Distance Relationships

Long-distance couples are quite fortunate these days; technology has endowed them with a wealth of utilities to help close the gap and maintain a relationship. Social media, in particular, has been a great way for couples to keep tabs on their significant other's day-to-day activities, which Cherrie Joy Billedo, Peter Kerkhof, and Catrin Finkenauerhas have made the focus of their paper.


Editor-in-Chief, Brenda K. Wiederhold, talked about the paper in a press release, saying:

"Social network sites are used more frequently by those in long-distance relationships. As long-distance relationships become more common, and continue to succeed, it becomes increasingly valuable to understand the role that technology plays in strengthening or damaging a romantic relationship."

In the paper, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, the researchers have found that social networks not only help long-distance couples maintain closeness, but also “it provides social and public contexts for relationship processes that are typically limited in [long-distance romantic relationships].”

They used an online survey to gauge how people who were in geographically close romantic relationships and people who were in long-distance relationships interacted on social networking sites. The researchers found long-distance couples utilized social networks more often than geographically close couples. But those in long-distance relationships used social networking sites as a way to keep tabs on each other, gauging involvement and commitment in the relationship (read: sniffing out infidelity). As a result, those in long-distance relationships were also more likely to become jealous of something on their partner's social networking site.

The researchers said that social media sites play an important role in maintaining a long-distance relationship, however, she admits there are gaps in her research. The most important being, are the people who use social media in long-distance relationships happier? A topic they're planning to explore in future studies.

Though, in another study, researchers found that couples who shared more on Facebook were happier. But their bliss was not a direct result of using the medium, they said:

“It may be that negative or positive effects related to Facebook use are not innate to the medium itself, but rather these effects are an artifact of how people elect to use Facebook.”

Read more at EurekAlert!.

Photo Credit: MsSaraKelly/Flickr

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CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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