Researchers are testing a potent new tool in the fight against malaria: dirty socks. Experiments are underway in three villages to see if smelly socks can lure mosquitoes into poisoned traps as effectively as synthetic chemical baits that can be expensive and complicated to mix. If so, good old fashioned human stink could become a key tool for curbing malaria infections.
This month in amazing medical procedures, it’s all about Europe. Last week we learned that a pan-European team of researchers and doctors have successfully pulled off the first transplant of a synthetic organ grown from the patient’s own stem cells.
Surgeons working at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden have taken a huge step forward for regenerative medicine by successfully executing the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. The donor-less transplant saved the life of a 36-year-old cancer patient, who is doing well now after having received a new windpipe grown from his own stem cells.
Wouldn’t it be easier to deal with disease if our bodies just fixed themselves? That’s asking quite a bit from our physiologies, but Israeli researchers are working on tiny nano-computers that could do the job for us. They envision tiny machines made of biomolecules that autonomously troll the body looking for disease, computing a diagnosis and delivering drugs all at the same time.
The naked mole rat isn’t a particularly handsome devil, but there’s more to life than being pretty--like living ten times longer than other mammals your size, withstanding extremely harsh conditions without breaking a sweat, or beating cancer. The naked mole rat does all of these things without really trying, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that British researchers are sequencing the un-cuddly rodent’s genome looking for clues to its longevity and fortitude.
Patients who consumed only 600 calories a day for two months were able to reverse their Type 2 diabetes, according to a groundbreaking British study. The research, involving just 11 patients, suggests a very low-calorie diet can remove fat that clogs the pancreas, allowing normal insulin secretion to be restored, according to Newcastle University.
Seven of the 11 patients remained free of diabetes three months after the study, researchers said.
Probing colons has never been this much fun. Japanese researchers have developed the world’s first self-propelled endoscopy device, a remote controlled tadpole-like camera that can “swim” through the digestive tack gathering imagery along the way.
On any battlefield, communication is key — troops must be able to communicate their own locations and that of their target, so everyone knows exactly where to bring the fight. MIT researchers are bringing this strategy to the war on cancer, training swarms of cancer-fighting nanoparticles to communicate to do their jobs more effectively.
It’s a story of mice and men with huge implications: Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators from the UK have apparently cured mice with well-established prostate tumors with no visible side effects via a new kind of tumor vaccine. And if it works for men like it worked for mice, it could make prostate cancer a preventable condition and open the door to additional cancer vaccines.
The same techniques used by vets to speed horse rehab might work for humans, too
By Emily Anthes
Posted 06.14.2011 at 12:53 pm 13 Comments
Over the course of the three races at this year’s Triple Crown, the odds are 10 to 1 that at least one horse will suffer a career-ending injury. “Orthopedically, the horse is a disaster waiting to happen,” says veterinarian Bob Harman. “They’re so big--a 1,000-pound animal on little toothpick legs--and they’re working at high capacity.” Harman is also the CEO of Vet-Stem, a California company that treats racehorses with stem-cell therapy.
Microelectrode arrays implanted in the brain monitor neurological conditions in living patients all the time, sometimes even influencing brain activity if it gets out of line. So, thought researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, why not load one up with drugs so it can deliver chemical therapy to problem sites immediately upon detecting an issue?
In a critical first step toward treating nervous system disorders and other degenerative conditions, researchers at Stanford have for the first time transformed human skin cells into functioning neurons. This isn’t stem cell technology--using tissue derived from aborted fetuses and the foreskins of newborns, the researchers were able to create working nerve cells that went on to form synapses with other nerve cells.
When Watson was competing on Jeopardy!, its massive databanks were filled with encyclopedias, novels, film scripts, and history books. These days, Watson is more into medical journals and misspelled Yahoo Answers blog posts about weird rashes and vague abdominal pains. Watson is maturing, and prepping for his first non-trivia, real-world application: medical diagnoses. He's all *sniff* grown up!
Cy Young-winning pitcher Bartolo Colon is back in a big way this season, having claimed a spot in the New York Yankees starting rotation after not throwing a pitch during the 2010 season following elbow surgery and the usual shoulder problems that accompany a career as a major league fastballer.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.