Reversing progressive memory loss, transplantable 3D printed organs, and improvements in resuscitation.

Possibly the most frightening thing about Alzheimer's Disease is the progressive loss of self; many humans measure their lives by the continuity of their memories, and when that starts to fail, it calls into question all sorts of things about yourself... as long as you're able to think about them. I'm not being cruel, I'm not cracking wise, Alzheimer's is a terrifying disease because it eats everything that makes you, you. Thus, it is with no small feeling of hope that I link to these results at the Buck Institute for Research On Aging - in a small trial at UCLA …

Read more...

Glueing wounds back together, human cloning, and using bio-nano to infiltrate synthetic DNA.

If you've ever been injured enough to need stitches, you know that it's no picnic. Administration of local anesthetic aside (which usually involves multiple shallow injections directly into the wound site), flesh is touchy stuff to suture back together. Get the suture too close to the edge of the wound and it might rip through and pop open again. There may not be enough usable skin far enough away from wound site to stick a needle through (such as on particularly skinny fingers or the backs of some ankles). Some parts of the body just don't take well to being …

Read more...

Mass producing custom stem cells and advances in desktop testing.

Let's cut through some FUD: Human stem cells are pretty easy to come by. Embryos have not been involved in the process for well over ten years that I can recall off the top of my head, and probably closer to twenty. Every human body has stockpiles of them that can be extracted with minor surgical procedures. The procedures in question usually involves scarily long needles that reach deeply enough inside the body to extract them, which might be why research into re-embryonization of other kinds of cells has proceeded at a good clip. To summarize, medical science has been …

Read more...

Organic mass production.

Some days one wakes up and it feels as if the world has inexorably become a little more strange - a little more surreal, as if Philip K. Dick took an apprentice who runs the tabletop game that we call our lives and they're starting to try things on their own. And it's delightfully fifteen degrees off dead center.

In China there is an industrial farm that not only raises pigs as food but clones them to keep certain germlines around. The company is called BGI and they've gotten the process of cloning refined to the point where it's methodical, repeatable …

Read more...

Just when you thought biotech couldn't get any more fascinating.

Biology and medicine have long known that more advanced forms of life emit various forms of energy as they go about their business. Mammals emit heat as a byproduct of their metabolisms, and the electrical activity of the musculature, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems may be picked up by sensitive instruments and used for diagnostic purposes. Recently, researchers in Japan have discovered that human bodies also emit light in the visble spectrum, albeit in a fashion that most sensors cannot detect. In fact, most lifeforms emit visible light in some fashion though the mechanism behind it isn’t understood. This …

Read more...

Blips from the future.

While doing some research for another entry I stumbled across a pair of articles in my daily news feed scan that jumped out at me because they seem thematically appropriate. Warren Ellis called them “outbreaks of the future” because they hint at things to come when they appear in the media. Or maybe it’s because they ring of what was once science fiction while carrying a byline of the now.

James Symington of the Halifax, Canada police department’s K-9 unit worked with a search-and-rescue dog named Trakr for fifteen years. Trakr’s claim to fame came during the …

Read more...

More biotech: Cloning from cell samples?

Cellular biologists working for the company Stemagan, based out of San Diego, California, have claimed something amazing: That they've managed to produce human embryos using skin cells from men instead of gametes (NY Times link - use Bugmenot if you need access). The embryos thus produced didn't develop very far, only to the blastocyst stage, but that in itself is a breakthrough. It wasn't necessary to force the division of the third stage for example (which is thought to have happened by accident under laboratory conditions at least once in medical history), for example. However, because embryonic stem cells weren't part …

Read more...