We’re already printing organs to order, so why not Cmd+P some customized 3-D bone? Washington State University researchers have tweaked a 3-D rapid prototyper designed to create metal parts to print in a bone-like material that acts as a scaffold for new bone cells. In just a few years, the researchers say, doctors and dentists could be printing up custom bone tissue to order.
Any attempt to segue into this post with a clever lead is likely to fall flat, so in the interest of skipping the cliches: a new study out of University of Colorado Denver and Montana State University shows that legalizing medical marijuana sales in various states over the past two decades has led to a nearly 10 percent drop in traffic fatalities. What the study really shows--by way of causal chain--is a five percent drop in beer sales, and that has in turn led to fewer fatalities on the road.
Inside a Dutch medical facility is a potentially devastating weapon that could kill millions: A genetically modified version of the H5N1 bird flu, engineered to be easily transmitted among ferrets. And the researchers who figured out how to do it would like to share their work with the world.
The lab-on-a-chip model has been praised as the future of simplified diagnostic medicine--place a sample of saliva, blood, or urine on a small chip-like device that traps disease biomarkers, and send it off to a lab for analysis and diagnosis. But a couple of researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology think we could simplify that process even further by doing the lab work on the touchscreens of our smartphones.
Texting while driving can be deadly. Talking while walking? Also deadly. Or at least threatening enough that researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Bologna thought it necessary to develop a smartphone app that makes it safer. Their Android app uses machine learning and image recognition that takes place right on your phone to alert you when you’re chatting your way right into an oncoming smash-up.
Considering I was between the ages of -2 and 8 for the first 10 installments of the Best of What's New, it's remarkable how many vivid memories I have of the 1980s' and '90s' greatest innovations. I owned and loved the computer game that let you print out clothes for your Barbies. My dad taught me the rules of hockey by watching Red Wings games with me on Fox, where infrared technology left a streak of color behind the fast-moving puck so I could follow it. And I even built and programmed a Lego Mindstorms robot at nerd camp one summer.
Good news for the countless people across the globe suffering from some kind of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which includes a large proportion of those dealing with skin cancer. Australian researchers have discovered the “stop signal” gene for SCC that is absent in virtually every SCC tumor they looked at. Without it, cells replicate uncontrolled causing a tumor, but knowing what gene is missing gives researchers the means to develop new strategies to treat and prevent this common form of cancer.
Anyone willing to travel to remote places for the sake of science has to accept some health problems, be it frostbite in Antarctica or bone loss in space. To make matters worse, these people also have to accept self-diagnosing and self-treating these health problems, not to mention others that may arise in the course of their missions.
A few years ago--by accident, really--Carl Zimmer became the de facto curator of science-based body art. The author of The Loom blog over at DISCOVER as well as numerous books, Zimmer asked his readers about their tattoos, and whether any of them had inked themselves up in science-inspired motifs. The response was greater than he imagined.
Back in 2009 when the H1N1 pandemic was sweeping the globe--it would leave about 17,000 people dead by the beginning of 2010, with confirmed cases in more than 200 countries--waves of anxiety followed in its wake. For most, it was a fear of an illness that seemed at the time indiscriminate, unstoppable, and incurable. For the virologists and drug developers trying to battle the virus, it stemmed from the fact that H1N1 was so poorly understood. This new strain of influenza A was a hybrid borrowing genetic elements from a handful of flu viruses, and researchers weren't just without tools--they didn't even know for sure what tools might be useful.