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Showing posts with label 0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 0. Show all posts

Friday, May 20, 2016

One Paragraph on Origami Surgical Robots


New experiments conducted as a simulation of the human oesophagus and stomach, have shown that a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from a swallowed capsule and, steered by external magnetic fields, crawl across the stomach wall to remove a swallowed button battery or patch a wound. Could we already be seeing the future in the technology of surgeries? This isn’t the first time that this type of technology has been introduced to the world. A predecessor was introduced last year at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Even though this years new robot is a successor to one reported at the same conference last year, the design of its body is significantly different. Like its predecessor, it can propel itself using what's called a "stick-slip" motion, in which its appendages stick to a surface through friction when it executes a move, but slip free again when its body flexes to change its weight distribution. Also like its predecessor -- and like several other origami robots from the Rus group -- the new robot consists of two layers of structural material sandwiching a material that shrinks when heated. A pattern of slits in the outer layers determines how the robot will fold when the middle layer contracts. It’s also possible to compress this robot into the size of a swallowable pill, and once in the stomach, the robot can fully unfold. The robot moves in the stomach in two ways: 1) A “stick-slip” motion (80% of the time) and 2) forward motion by propelling water/ stomach acid (20% of the time). This robot was essentially designed to extract swallowed button batteries. Every year, 3,500 swallowed button batteries are reported in the U.S. alone. Button batteries are digested normally, but if they come into prolonged contact with the tissue of the oesophagus or stomach, they can cause an electric current that produces hydroxide, which burns the tissue. This is a better way to extract unwanted objects which may have been swallowed in the body. Hopefully future research will be able to make robots that can carry out more complex operations in the stomach and oesophagus.  

References: [1]



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Monday, May 16, 2016

Paracetamol Switches Off Your Empathy


Paracetamol is the most common painkiller which we all rely on to treat our aches and pains, but it turns out that you might also be decreasing your empathy for both the physical and social pains that other people experience, a new study conducted at Ohio State University suggests. 

It turns out that paracetamol may not only be a painkiller but also an emotion-killer. Researchers found that, for example, when participants in the study took paracetamol and were informed of the misfortunes of others they thought these individuals experienced less pain and suffering,when compared to those who took no painkiller.


"These findings suggest other people's pain doesn't seem as big of a deal to you when you've taken acetaminophen," said Dominik Mischkowski, co-author of the study and a former Ph.D. student at Ohio State, now at the National Institutes of Health.
"Acetaminophen can reduce empathy as well as serve as a painkiller."
This research was conducted at Ohio State University, USA and results were published online in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 
"We don't know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning," said Baldwin Way, the senior author of the study.

How the research was conducted...

The researchers conducted two experiments, the first involving 80 college students. In the start of the experiment, half of the students drank a liquid containing 1,000 mg of paracetamol while the other half drank a placebo solution that contained no drug- the students did not know which solution they were drinking. After waiting for one hour for the drug to take effect, the participants read eight short scenarios in which someone suffered some sort of pain. For example, one scenario was about a person who suffered a knife cut that went down to the bone and another was about a person experiencing the death of his father. Participants rated the pain each person in the scenarios experienced from 1 (no pain at all) to 5 (worst possible pain). They also rated how much the protagonists in the scenarios felt hurt, wounded and pained.
The participants which took 1000mg of paracetamol rated the pain of the people in the scenarios to be less severe than did those who took the placebo solution. 

The second experiment... 

Conducted with 114 college students. As in the first experiment, half took acetaminophen and half took the placebo. In one part of the experiment, the participants received four two-second blasts of white noise that ranged from 75 to 105 decibels. They then rated the noise blasts on a scale of 1 (not unpleasant at all) to 10 (extremely unpleasant). They were then asked to imagine how much pain the same noise blasts would cause in another anonymous study participant. 
The participants in this experiment rated the noise blasts to be less distressing for themselves and they also rated the level of distress lower for others being subjected to the same noise blasts. Not only did paracetamol reduce the pain for themselves, but also reduced their empathy for others experiencing the same pain.

Previous research... putting the pieces of the puzzle together 

In 2004, a study was conducted which scanned the brains of people as they were experiencing pain and while they were imagining other people feeling the same pain. Those results showed that the same part of the brain was activated in both cases. Since the part of the brain that experiences pain is the same as the part of the brain that experiences empathy, this could explain why paracetamol blocks physical and emotional pain together. 
The researchers are now going to study ibuprofen to see, if, like paracetamol, it has a similar effect on physical and emotional pain. 

References:
[1] [2]


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Friday, April 08, 2016

Are common painkillers more dangerous than we think?


We can buy common painkillers over-the-counter at  a pharmacy or even be prescribed them in copious amounts for the treatment  of difficult conditions such as colds, flu, pain, inflammation, and fever. However, all drugs come with side effects, such as increased blood pressure or an increased risk of ulcers. A new study has gathered all the information on each side effect of each common painkiller and its effect on patients with different health conditions (such as diabetes or heart-related diseases).
What you need to know about NSAIDs:
  • NSAIDs is an abbreviation for Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and is used to treat a wide range of diseases, in particular, disorders in the muscular and bone system, where the drug counteracts swelling, pain and limitations in movement associated with inflammation.
  • NSAIDs are not antibiotics and therefore do not help to fight infections caused by bacteria.
  • NSAIDs are in Denmark sold both in low doses (Ibuprofen 200 mg/tablet) without a prescription and in higher doses and other types with a prescription.
"It's been well-known for a number of years that newer types of NSAIDs -- what are known as COX-2 inhibitors, increase the risk of heart attacks. For this reason, a number of these newer types of NSAIDs have been taken off the market again. We can now see that some of the older NSAID types, particularly Diclofenac, are also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and apparently to the same extent as several of the types that were taken off the market," says Morten Schmidt, MD and PhD from Aarhus University, who is in charge of the research project. He adds:
"This is worrying because these older types of medicine are frequently used throughout the western world and in many countries available without prescription."
Every year, more than 15 percent of western populations are prescribed painkillers (NSAIDs) and this figure increases with patient age.
The study, which was carried out in collaboration between 14 European universities and hospitals, including a number of leading European heart specialists, was published in the European Heart Journal.
New Guidelines:
This study was conducted with the intention to find out the use of NSAIDs in patients with heart disease. Results from the survey that they gathered has now been used to compile a list of recommendations about what doctors should consider before prescribing painkillers to their patients.
"When doctors issue prescriptions for NSAIDs, they must in each individual case carry out a thorough assessment of the risk of heart complications and bleeding. NSAIDs should only be sold over the counter when it comes with an adequate warning about the associated cardiovascular risks. In general, NSAIDs are not be used in patients who have or are at high-risk of cardiovascular diseases," says another of the authors, Professor in cardiology Christian Torp-Pedersen, Aalborg University, Denmark.
We need to reduce the amount of painkillers being taken:

After seeing the results of this study, the researchers in Denmark have recommended that it would be better for patient safety that the amounts of painkillers prescribed and/or taken should be reduced, not just in Denmark but for all countries who consume more of these drugs. The Danish researchers have already been successful in reducing the consumption of Diclofenac in Denmark. Hopefully, this research will open the door for more research on NSAIDs and their effect on patients with other health conditions so that there will be more efficient guidelines on the prescription of painkillers. 
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References:
Image: [1] Quotes: [1] Story: [1] 

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Sunday, April 03, 2016

Possibility for Future AIDS Vaccine


HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and weakens your ability to fight incoming infections and diseases. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus currently has no cure but there are currently treatments which are able to help people with the virus to live a prolonged, healthy life. Since there is no cure for HIV, the best way to approach preventing the spread of the virus is by vaccination; enabling the body to fight off the virus before it attacks the immune system. 

Researchers in the USA have been working on developing a vaccine capable of inducing "broadly neutralizing" antibodies that can prevent HIV infections. This new vaccine technique aims to immunize people with a series of different engineered HIV proteins as immunogens to "teach" the immune system to produce broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV. This in turn, will prepare the immune system to fight off an incoming virus which carries similar proteins to the HIV proteins.

The group of researchers have found that the right precursor ("germline") cells for one kind of HIV broadly neutralizing antibody which is  present in most people, and have described the design of an HIV vaccine germline-targeting immunogen capable of binding those B cells. 


"We found that almost everybody has these broadly neutralizing antibody precursors, and that a precisely engineered protein can bind to these cells that have potential to develop into HIV broadly neutralizing antibody-producing cells, even in the presence of competition from other immune cells," said the study's lead author, William Schief, TSRI professor and director, Vaccine Design of the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center at TSRI, in whose lab the engineered HIV vaccine protein was developed.

The human immune system  consists of a large variety of variating precursor B cells so that it is able to respond to a large variety of pathogens (viruses and bacteria). However, this also means that the precursor B cells able to recognize a specific feature on a virus surface are exceedingly rare within the total pool of B cells.  

Our immune system is able to track and hunt down pathogens which carry markers (the proteins on the surface of the virus) for the HIV virus. This advance in research has lead to a phase 1 trial being initiated to clinical trial to test a nanoparticle version of the engineered HIV vaccine protein, the "eOD-GT8 60mer."

"The goal of the clinical study will be to test the safety and the ability of this engineered protein to elicit the desired immune response in humans that would look like the start of broadly neutralizing antibody development," Schief said. "Data from this new study was also important for designing the clinical trial, including the size and the methods of analysis."

In June 2015, researchers from TSRI, IAVI and The Rockefeller University reported that the eOD-GT8 60mer produced antibody responses in mice that showed some of the traits necessary to recognize and inhibit HIV. If the eOD-GT8 60mer performs similarly in humans, additional boost immunogens are thought to be needed to ultimately induce broadly neutralizing antibodies that can block HIV.

This new research has provided a new technique for researchers to determine if other new vaccine proteins can bind their intended precursor B cells. This technique is essential in manufacturing targeted and effective vaccines against HIV and AIDs. 

This research was published in the March 25, 2016 issue of Science, published by AAAS. The paper, by J.G. Jardine at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and colleagues was titled, "HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibody precursor B cells revealed by germline-targeting immunogen."
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References:
The Scripps Research Institute. "New findings in humans provide encouraging foundation for upcoming AIDS vaccine clinical trial." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2016. 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160324150047.htm

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Where have I been?


First of all sorry that I have been M.I.A recently. It's been just over a month since I've last posted a science blog on here.

Click here to see my latest blog post- :)

Within the last month, I came down with the cold, gotten better then suddenly relapsing into another cold, which was 10 times worse than the previous one (imagine coughing continuously - ALL DAY!). Thankfully, I am feeling better now and I am trying to get back into my usual routine. So starting this week expect more regular posting from me!

The funny thing is I have a post on how to prevent cold and flu - and I couldn't prevent it from myself! #NeedMoreImmunity #VitaminC

The science of a "relapsing cold"

Actually, a cold cannot relapse, you've most likely caught another cold virus (unlucky, I know).
F.Y.I  a cold/flu is a virus, not a bacteria, so you won't and cannot be prescribed antibiotics for it. 

This awesome video by ASAP science goes through the different types of cold remedies and which ones work the best and are scientifically proven and even explains a little bit about our immune responses to colds.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

One Paragraph on Diabetes and Psychiatric Disorders

A new report featuring in the February 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show that a gene called "DISC1," is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (and other forms of depression); influence the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Understanding how the different mechanisms  of diseases in the body is essential to be able to pick efficient therapies for patients. Bortell and colleagues decided to study the function of DISC1 by comparing 2 groups of mice. The first group was genetically manipulated to disrupt the DISC1 gene only in the mouse's pancreatic beta cells. The second group of mice was normal. The mice with disrupted DISC1 gene showed increased beta cell death, less insulin secretion and impaired glucose regulation while control mice were normal. The researchers found that DISC1 works by controlling the activity of a specific protein (GSK3β) already known to be critical for beta cell function and survival. Inhibition of GSK3β resulted in improved beta cell survival and restored normal glucose tolerance in mice with disrupted DISC1. "The connections between these disorders may be surprising, but we have known for a long time that a single protein or gene can play multiple roles in the body," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.




References:

1. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160205105345.htm

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