science + technology news

Cancer patient receives 3D-printed ribs in world-first surgery

September 12, 2015

(Credit: CSIRO)

A Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D-printed titanium sternum and rib cage.

Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of cancerous tumor that grows, in this instance, around the rib cage), the 54 year old man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced. This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and design required… read more

First known magnetic wormhole created

Could make MRIs more comfortable for patients and improve magnetic imaging
September 7, 2015

magnetic-wormhole ft

A wormhole* that can connect two regions of space magnetically has been created in the laboratory and experimentally demonstrated by physicists at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.

This is not a wormhole in space, as in the movie Interstellar. It’s a special design that transfers a magnetic field from one location in space to another in such a way that the process is magnetically… read more

Life expectancy climbs worldwide but people spend more years living with illness and disability

Global life expectancy has risen by more than six years since 1990
September 2, 2015

Life expectancy at birth, both sexes, 2013 (credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)

The good news: as for 2013, global life expectancy for people in 188 countries has risen 6.2 years since 1990 (65.3 to 71.5). The bad news: healthy life expectancy (HALE) at birth rose by only 5.4 years (56.9 to 62.3), due to fatal and nonfatal ailments (interactive visualization by country here).

In other words, people are living more years with illness and disability. Ischemic heart disease, lower… read more

Lack of sleep connected to catching a cold, new research confirms

If you sleep six hours a night or less, you are 4 times more likely to catch a cold
September 1, 2015

(credit: iStock)

If you sleep six hours a night or less a night, you are 4.2 times more likely to catch a cold (five hours or less, 4.5 times more likely) compared to those who sleep more than seven hours in a night.

That’s the finding of a study by  Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology in the… read more

Older people in Germany and England getting smarter, but not fitter

September 1, 2015

smarter not fitter

People over age 50 are scoring better on cognitive tests than people of the same age did in the past — a trend that could be linked to higher education rates and increased use of technology in our daily lives, according to a new study published in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE. But the study also showed that average physical health of the older population has declined.… read more

Anti-aging effects (in mice) of a dietary supplement called alpha lipoic acid

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can also stimulate telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres
August 25, 2015

Shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are both a sign of aging and contribute to it (credit: NIGMS)

Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found that the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can stimulate telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, with positive effects in a mouse model of atherosclerosis.

In human cells, shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are a sign of aging and also contribute to aging.

The discovery highlights… read more

‘Tricorder’-style handheld MouthLab detects patients’ vital signs, rivaling hospital devices

Could be used by people without special training at home or in the field
August 25, 2015

MouthLab ft

Inspired by the Star Trek tricorder, engineers and physicians at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed a hand-held, battery-powered device called MouthLab that quickly picks up vital signs from a patient’s lips and fingertip.

Updated versions of the prototype could replace the bulky, restrictive monitors now used to display patients’ vital signs in hospitals and actually gather more data than is typically collected during… read more

Surprising results from brain and cognitive studies of a 93-year-old woman athelete

August 18, 2015

Olga Kotelko's brain "does not look like a 90-plus-year-old" ---  Beckman Institute director Art Kramer

Brain scans and cognitive tests of Olga Kotelko, a 93-year-old Canadian track-and-field athlete with more than 30 world records in her age group, may support the potential beneficial effects of exercise on cognition in the “oldest old.”

In the summer of 2012, researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois invited her to visit for in-depth analysis… read more

Trans fats, but not saturated fats, linked to greater risk of death and heart disease

August 14, 2015

Which of these is a killer food? (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A study led by researchers at McMaster University has found that that trans fats are associated with greater risk of death and coronary heart disease, unlike saturated fats, which are also not associated with an increased risk of stroke or Type 2 diabetes.

The findings were published in an open-access paper August 12 by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Trans vs. saturatedread more

Study links aerobic fitness, thinner gray matter, and better math skills in kids

August 12, 2015

Cortical thickness regions of interest. Starred regions are areas in which higher-fit children showed decreased cortical thickness compared to lower-fit children. (credit: Laura Chaddock-Heyman et al./PLOS ONE)

A new study reveals that 9- and 10-year-old children who are aerobically fit tend to have significantly thinner gray matter than their “lower-fit” peers. Thinning of the outermost layer of brain cells in the cerebrum is associated with better mathematics performance, researchers report in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study suggests, but does not prove, that cardiorespiratory fitness contributes to gray matter thinning —… read more

Biocompatible interfaces replace silicon and metal in neural prosthetic devices

Avoid immune-system rejection, failures, neurodegeneration
August 11, 2015

Left: collagen; right: matrigel (credit: Wen Shen et al./Microsystems & Nanoengineering)

Researchers at the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center have developed a biocompatible implantable neural prosthetic device to replace silicon and noble metal in neural prosthetic devices. The goal is to avoid immune-system rejection, failures due to tissue strain, neurodegeneration, and decreased fidelity of recorded neural signals.

Implantable neural prosthetic devices in the brain have been around for almost two decades, helping people living with limb loss and… read more

Controlling inflammation to reduce chronic disease risk

August 10, 2015

Two-hit model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (credit: ILSI Europe)

In an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, a coalition of 17 experts explain how elevated unresolved chronic inflammation is involved a range of chronic diseases, and how nutrition influences inflammatory processes and helps reduce chronic risk of diseases.

According to the authors, “the nutrition status of the individual with for example a deficiency or excess of certain micronutrients (e.g. folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin 1, vitamin… read more

Google Glass could bring toxicology specialists to remote emergency rooms

August 10, 2015

credit: Google

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have found that Google Glass — presumably the Enterprise Edition — could effectively extend bedside toxicology consults to distant health care facilities such as community and rural hospitals to diagnose and manage poisoned patients, according to a paper in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.

“In the present era of value-based care, a toxicology service using hands-free devices, such… read more

Scientists reveal secrets for reaching age 100 (or more)

Prime factors: long telemere length (pre-age 100) and low inflammation
August 6, 2015

Telomere length in study participants up to 115 years of age. Leukocyte telomere length vs age is shown for males (blue or cyan) and females (green or red). Centenarians, (semi-)supercentenarians, and centenarian offspring are shown in blue (males) or red (females), respectively. Unrelated participants younger than 100 years are indicated in cyan (males) or green (females). Regression lines belonging to these groups are indicated by the same colour. (credit: Yasumichi Arai et al./EBioMedicine)

Scientists say they have cracked the secret of why some people live a healthy and physically independent life over the age of 100: keeping inflammation down and telomeres long.

Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing in the U.K. and Keio University School of Medicine note that severe inflammation is part of many diseases in the old, such as diabetes or diseases attacking the bones… read more

Non-surgical electrical/drug stimulation helps patients with paralysis to voluntarily move their legs — a first

July 30, 2015

Range of voluntary movement prior to receiving stimulation compared to movement after receiving stimulation, physical conditioning, and buspirone. The subject’s legs are supported so that they can move without resistance from gravity. The electrodes on the legs are used for recording muscle activity. (credit: Edgerton Lab/UCLA)

In a study conducted at UCLA, five men who had been completely paralyzed were able to move their legs in a rhythmic motion thanks to a new, noninvasive neuromodulation and pharmacological procedure that stimulates the spinal cord.

The researchers believe this to be the first time voluntary leg movements have ever been relearned in completely paralyzed patients without surgery. The results are reported in an… read more

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