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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

Common chemicals may act together to increase cancer risk, international study finds

July 22, 2015

Disruptive potential ft

Common environmental chemicals assumed to be safe at low doses may act separately or together to disrupt human tissues in ways that eventually lead to cancer, according to a task force of almost 200 scientists from 28 countries.

In a nearly three-year investigation of the state of knowledge about environmentally influenced cancers, the scientists studied low-dose effects of 85 common chemicals not considered to be carcinogenic to humans.… read more

How to regenerate axons to recover from spinal-cord injury

July 17, 2015

HKUST researchers cut mouse corticospinal tract axons (labeled red). A year later, they deleted the Pten gene in the experimental group (bottom) but not the control group. The Pten gene removal resulted in axon regrowth in seven months, unlike the control group (top). (credit: Kaimeng Du et al./The Journal of Neuroscience)

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have found a way to help patients recover from chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) by stimulating the growth of axons.

Chronic SCI prevents a large number of injured axons from crossing a lesion, particularly in the corticospinal tract (CST). Patients inflicted with SCI often suffer a temporary or permanent loss of mobility… read more

Wireless device delivers drugs to brain and triggers neurons via remote control

July 16, 2015

Tiny, implantable devices are capable of delivering light or drugs to specific areas of the brain, potentially improving drug delivery to targeted regions of the brain and reducing side effects. Eventually, the devices may be used to treat pain, depression, epilepsy and other neurological disorders in people. (credit: Alex David Jerez Roman)

A team of researchers has developed a tiny “wireless optofluidic neural probe” the width of a human hair that can be implanted in the brain and triggered by remote control to deliver drugs and activate targeted populations of brain cells.

The technology, demonstrated for the first time in mice, may one day be used to treat pain, depression, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders in people by targeting therapies to… read more

Nanospheres safely deliver high chemotherapy doses to attack tumors

Trojan-horse strategy make the cancer's own enzymes rip up nanoparticles, releasing drugs
July 15, 2015

Tumors secrete enzymes the slice open peptide coatings (blue) that help to safely deliver an anti-cancer drug (red) (credit: Cassandra E. Callmann et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists have engineered a drug delivery system that uses specially designed nanoparticles that release drugs in the presence of a specific enzymes — the very ones that enable cancers to metastasize.

“We can start with a small molecule and build that into a nanoscale carrier that can seek out a tumor and deliver a payload of drug,” said Cassandra Callmann, a graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry… read more

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