Recent breakthroughs in monitoring and treating diabetes suggest that needle-less diabetes care is on the horizon. (Original article by Brian)
Tesla, maker of high-performance battery-electric vehicles (such as the Roadster discussed in Rush) turned its first ever profit this past week (and subsequently repaid a government loan). The article also notes that Consumer Reports recently called Tesla's Model S the best car they've ever tested. (Not too shabby.)
Iodine deficiency in mothers tied to diminished cognitive abilities in children by age 8 or 9. The study authors recommend women take pre-natal vitamins with iodine. (Note article is a journal study)
Kava found to reduce anxiety in 26% of study participants vs 6% for placebo.
Excellent (although complex) article on some broad strategies that will be used to better understand the human brain. In general it will not be feasible to model an entire brain based on individual synapses (interactions of individual neurons)- the author notes there are far too many synpases in the brain to study each individually. Instead we likely study synapses in very small areas and use this knowledge to develop "realistic statistical models" which will approximate the function of larger areas of the brain- perhaps even leading to a good understanding of the cerebral cortex (the region of the brain unique to humans).
Researchers biomedically engineered an impressive 3D heart tissue that functions like normal heart tissue- beating and conducting electrical signals in time with the heart. Read more about biomedical (tissue) engineering and how it will revolutionize medicine in chapter 21 of Rush: Science and Technology in Our Acceleration Age.
Cancer Genome Atlas (discussed in 'Rush') offers a better way to classify tumors. A recent study analyzed the genome of endometrial tumors and found that different genetic-subtypes (ie tumors with different mutations) had better prognoses than other subtypes. In the future, more cancer tumors will be subtyped based upon their unique genetic 'footprint.'
Australian researchers feel they've discovered "beta amyloid" (protein associated with Alzheimers) in blood. As I've noted previously, I think early detection of those at greatest risk for Alzheimers (ideally before overt symptoms appear) & treatment will be the most effective mechanism for thwarting Alzheimers disease in the near future.
Analyzing Google Trends to anticipate stock market moves could be lucrative. This study comes in the wake of the AP's Twitter account being hacked and broadcasting that President Obama was injured in a bomb blast, a prank that caused a dip in the stock market. I believe people are probably already leveraging computers & social data/search terms/news to profit in the stock market.
Harvard researchers discover a hormone named "betatrophin" which increases the number of "beta-cells" in the pancreas (the cells that produce insulin). Hormone shows promise as a potential treatment for type II diabetes.
Swedish researchers identify a dozen substances (including cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines) in the breath. Will roadside breath tests be coming to a police department in your area?
Statistical analysis of parents in Sweden finds that maternal antidepressant use explains 0.6% of cases of autism. This is concerning but perhaps not surprising (see tile below).
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Researchers develop nanoparticles that can respond to changes in blood sugar by releasing insulin as needed. A single injection could last 10 days. This could be a potential treatment for Type I diabetes in the future.
A toddler born without a trachea receives a trachea engineered from stem cells. The child is the youngest but not the only person to receive a "bioengineered" trachea (Rush: Science and Technology discusses additional bioengineered tissues that have been implanted).
The neurogrid computer can perform calculations as quickly as the human brain (something even the quickest supercomputer likely cannot perform) by mimicking 1 million neurons.
Researchers at Yale studied over 100 placentas from mothers at high risk for children with autism. They found these placentas were more likely to have abnormal placental folds and small growths called "inclusions." This finding could help identify infants at risk for autism and allow for earlier interventions.
Antibiotic mimics viruses harmful to bacteria (phages) to prevent bacterial infections in humans- may be successful in treating even most virulent bacteria (ie MRSA).
A company backed by the Department of Energy hopes to create biofuel from corn stalks and leaves. Cellulose, found in many plant "waste" materials, could be the "holy grail" for biofuel production. The plant described in the article uses a couple of impressive techniques to hopefully make commercial volumes of biofuel at prices comparable to oil. For a good overview on biofuel, see my book Rush: Science and Technology... chapter 16.
From what I gather, the "internet of things" refers to how many entities within our homes will communicate with one another via a network similar to the internet. I'm still learning about this topic & its one that is being increasingly discussed.
Valproate (a drug used to treat seizures and other neurological conditions) use during pregnancy may increase the risk of giving birth to a child with autism by several percentage points.
I strongly suspect that we are going to discover other environmental exposures (ie meds or chemicals) that also increase risk of developing autism.
Princeton researchers use 3-D printing and tissue-engineering techniques to create a "bionic ear" made of tissue that incorporates electronics potentially capable of hearing even beyond the normal human range of frequencies. This is perhaps the first example of "engineered tissue" melding with electronics. Learn more about tissue engineering and 3-D printing in Rush: Science and Technology.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins diminished a cancer cell's ability to grow and spread by halting a gene. Because cancer is caused by numerous mutations, I'm usually skeptical of claims about treating cancer by influencing the expression of a single gene- but this particular gene sounds intriguing for treating difficult-to-treat cancers.
Telomere length, the length of the tips of chromosomes, are probably a more accurate measure of one's "age" (with every cell division, telomeres shorten).
Impressive device measures "PSMA" (prostate-specific membrane antigen) in urine; could allow affordable at-home testing for prostate cancer.
The National Science Foundation lists 10 interesting technologies that were recently presented to industry representatives. I'm particularly intrigued by Paul Painter of Penn State's technique for removing oil from sand which could be useful for extracting oil from "tar sands" and cleaning up environmental spills.
Simponi injection, a drug believed to block 'tumor necrosis factor' (TNF- a key mediator of inflammation), approved to treat Ulcerative colitis. Simponi is already approved for treating psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Researchers found levels of a bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila were inversely correlated with a mice's body weight (obese mice possessed lower levels of the bacteria in their gut. Impressively scientists administered the bacteria to mice and found it decreased body weight. If you read Big In Science regularly, you know we've been following interesting developments in how microbes influence health (see articles tagged "Microbes" if you're further interested). This study is particularly interesting because it suggests that altering levels of microbes could actually be a target for therapies.
Press release from the American Chemical Society notes several factors are fueling development of drugs for rare ("orphan") diseases. Note that the release features "highlights from the story" at the bottom of the release which offer an excellent summary. It'll be interesting to follow if insurance companies will continue to reimburse for these immensely expensive medications in the future.
Some "orphan" (rare) diseases can be treated by neutralizing a specific protein responsible for causing the disease. Fit2Cure recruits online gamers to try and derive molecules that can neutralize these proteins by fitting precisely onto the protein's surface. Very cool and practical idea.
For years futurists have been anticipating electronic newspapers that can be folded up and even discarded (think of a cross between a newspaper and a kindle). A recent article "Batteries get flexible" describes flexible batteries being developed which could help realize novel electronic like the electronic & foldable newspaper or a foldable smartphone.
Harvesting oil sands produces a significant amount of carbon dioxide. Canada is set to employ the first large scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) system to pump CO2 underground. I discuss global warming, climate change, and specifically CCS in-depth in Rush. Canada's effort to pump CO2 underground are commendable, but I'm not sure how much of an impact CCS will have worldwide in reducing CO2 emissions (please read Rush for further elaboration).
Quantum internets are nearly impossible to eavesdrop on- they rely upon a quantum principle that states that measuring a subatomic particle (which is used to convey information in a quantum internet) changes the state of the particle. (Learn more about the peculiarities of quantum mechanics and quantum computing in Rush.) The government's quantum internet is not perfectly secure because it transmits quantum messages to a hub which redistributes the messages; but this quantum internet is impressive never-the-less.
An investigational vaccine works by eliciting the immune system to attack heroin and it's metabolite preventing these from entering the brain. The vaccine demonstrated effectiveness in preventing rats from relapsing. The vaccine joins others currently being studied for cocaine, nicotine, and methamphetamine.
Device separates out DNA from human samples of blood or saliva in a matter of minutes. Traditionally isolating DNA from these samples has been a prolonged and tedious process, so this device will allow for more rapid processing and sequencing of DNA.
Researchers found that eliciting the relaxation response (ie via meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or prayer) apparently up-regulated genes associated with energy metabolism, down-regulated genes associated with inflammation in the immune system, and "altered" the expression of genes associated with insulin production. Interestingly, there did not appear to be an effect for the type of relexation technique & gene expression (ie all types of relaxation appeared effective).
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