Tag: medicine

  1. Replacing teeth and white blood cells, and a wi-fi enabled pacemaker.

    30 August 2009

    I realize that some of these stories are kind of old, but in my defense I work a lot.

    
    

    Scientists at the Tokyo University of Science announced earlier this month that they had grown a replacement tooth for an adult lab mouse. While this doesn’t sound like much given that rodent teeth grow continually through the creature’s life, they accomplished this task by engineering mouse cells to grow teeth and transplanting them into the socket of an extracted tooth. The tooth grown was fully functional, and seemed to have all of the nerve connections, structural integrity, and usability …

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  2. Triumph of the anti-vaccination movement: Measles outbreak.

    02 May 2008

    In the past decade or so, a worrisome movement has cropped up that seems hell-bent on using bad science to try to protect their children: People who refuse to have their children vaccinated for various childhood diseases out of fear that their children will wind up brain damaged, or worse. It seems that they've triumphed: seven US states have reported an outbreak of measles to the Centers for Disease Control. Figures released by the CDC state that 64 cases of full-blown measles have been reported to doctors, with more expected to appear as the year continues. Slightly over one fifth …

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  3. Nanofibres used to assist in nerve regeneration.

    21 April 2008

    Neurologists at Northwestern University have made a minor breakthrough in the field of nerve regeneration: They've developed a form of self-assembling nanofibre that can be used by damaged nerve cells to stitch themselves back together. The process involves a solution of molecules (the names of the compounds involved were not included in this article) that, under the correct circumstances, will arrange themselves into molecular-sized tubes that act as repair scaffolds for injured nerve cells in the spinal cords of mice. Ordinarily, when nerves are damaged, scar tissue develops at the injury sites and precludes rejoining the ends in any fashion …

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  4. A whirlwind recap of the links that piled up in my blogfodder folder.

    05 April 2008

    Medical doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that hydrogen sulfide gas can cause the metabolic processes of mammalian cells to drop drastically, thus approximating a state of suspended animation. By breathing a low concentration of the gas the heart rates of experimental animals plummeted rapidly without a corresponding drop in blood pressure or the need for refrigeration; moreover, the state appears to be reversible. This means that the organism requires less oxygen in the depressed state, which means that cells remain viable much longer. The surgical applications should be obvious.

    The Internet Storm Center reported not too long ago …

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  5. In the future, someone else might own your prosthetics.

    19 March 2008

    ..and I don't mean the finance company.

    I know this is late in coming, but real life has a better framerate sometimes. Anyway, a security research outfit called Secure Medicine, following in the footsteps of security researcher Gadi Evron raised some interesting questions about the current generation of biomedical cardiac implants in use these days, such as pacemakers and LVADs (left ventricular assist devices). Due to the fact that these devices are remotely controllable to a certain extent via wireless data link they are vulnerable to compromise by attackers and may be manipulated. This sounds asanine, but LVADs are implanted …

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  6. Biological mechanism that controls regeneration in zebrafish isolated.

    17 March 2008

    At the Duke University Medical Center, biologists have been working with zebrafish, a common aquarium fish with unusual properties, namely, they can regenerate damaged limbs and organs, including fully functional eyes and hearts. They can re-grow an entire fin in approximately two weeks' time assuming that the fish is otherwise healthy. As it turns out, very small pieces of RNA (ribonucleic acid, which is involved in the synthesis of proteins, as well as controlling the state of certain genes) control whether or not the regeneration mechanism is active or not. If a particular micro-RNA strand, designated miR-133, has a low …

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  7. Genetically modified cells reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease in rats.

    31 August 2007

    Biomedical researchers at the Harvard Medical School have made an interesting discovery while working with rats that had, for all intents and purposes, developed Alzheimer's disease - genetically modified rat cells that produce a protein that breaks up amyloid-beta plaques in the brain can reverse the progression of the disease. At least in part (thus disclaimed because this isn't really my field of expertise), Alzheimer's disease is caused by masses of a protein called amyloid-beta that interfere with the normal operation of neurons in the brain, causing the functionality of neural networks to degrade. There is, however, a protein called neprilysin …

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  8. Electrical stimulation of tissue regeneration in xenopus laevus.

    01 March 2007

    Researchers at the Forstyth Centre for Regenerative and Developmental Biology in Boston, Massachusetts, lead by Dr. Michael Levin have figured out how to trigger tissue regeneration in xenopus tadpoles past the age when they are normally capable of it. After a certain age, the tadpoles are unable to regrow their tails or other organs after amputation, but some nicely nonlinear research shows that it is possible to duplicate the weak electrical field that builds up around sites of major trauma that heralds the regenerative process. This is a phenomenon found in many higher lifeforms, from frogs to deer (the males …

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  9. It's not quite a new body but they're working on it.

    20 February 2007

    Tissue regeneration therapies in mammals is progressing at an impressive pace. Everyone who's ever looked into the field knows that vertebrates lower on the evolutionary ladder are capable of regrowing lost limbs and organs, like salamanders and axolotls, but higher lifeforms really can't. The best that humans can do is putting things back more or less they way they were, a process that we all know as healing. Once something's gone, though, it's gone (save for the liver, which can infact regrow if a small portion of liver tissue remains and the rest of the body is properly cared for …

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  10. EDIT: Controversy over mandatory HPV vaccination in the state of California.

    13 February 2007

    A bill recently introduced to the California legislature would require all female children to be vaccinated for HPV (human papilloma virus, which causes some forms of cervical cancer and genital warts). Parents, however, are outraged by this bill because the vaccine would protect against a virus that is technically a sexually transmitted disease. Some are going so far as to say that it encourages teenage sex and promiscuity.

    I hate to tell them (well, no, I don't, but allow me the figure of speech) but women are not exposed to HPV solely through sex; it is not uncommon for rape …

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