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Fungal Diseases Are on the Rise, and They Are Coming for Us

Fungal Diseases Are on the Rise, and They Are Coming for Us | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Our single-celled ancestors darted around the world’s vast ocean a billion years ago, propelling themselves with tiny flagella tails and feeding on primitive plants, algae, and one another.
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Around this time, two groups of these ancient creatures branched into what would become two of life’s most successful kingdoms. One group developed into animals. The other became fungi. Animals and fungi both breathe oxygen and replenish their energy by eating food. Their cells are similar. The two closely akin kingdoms have occupied the Earth through most of their histories in an awkward fraternal tussle. When environmental conditions change quickly, fungi turn into opportunistic parricides, attacking and feasting on their enfeebled animal kin. Deadly fungi are thriving today amid environmental tumult, wiping out nests of bumblebees, colonies of bats, and hundreds of species of frogs.

And they are coming for us.

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Drug-delivering microrobots swim closer to reality

Drug-delivering microrobots swim closer to reality | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Over the years, scientists have come up with all manner of new ways to deliver medication, from sophisticated dual-sided pills to drug-packed nanoparticles. Now, researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia are working on something even more sophisticated, developing tiny bead-shaped robots controlled by magnetic fields.

It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie – tiny robots swimming through the body and delivering medication exactly where it's needed most – but it's actually something scientists around the world have been working to make a reality. We've seen the concept in the past, in a Max Planck Institute study using scallop-like robots, and in a University of California, San Diego project, which made use of magnetically propelled helical microswimmers.

The Drexel University project is built upon the same idea, using a magnetic field to propel a tiny intravenous robot swim team to deliver medicine inside the body. Today, the researchers announced that they've made significant strides towards making it a reality.
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Antibiotic resistance: 'Snot wars' study yields new class of drugs - BBC News

Antibiotic resistance: 'Snot wars' study yields new class of drugs - BBC News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A new class of antibiotics has been discovered by analysing the bacterial warfare taking place up people's noses, scientists report.

Tests reported in the journal Nature found the resulting drug, lugdunin, could treat superbug infections.

The researchers, at the University of Tubingen in Germany, say the human body is an untapped source of new drugs.

The last new class of the drugs to reach patients was discovered in the 1980s.

Nearly all antibiotics were discovered in soil bacteria, but the University of Tubingen research team turned to the human body.
Dreaded superbug

Our bodies might not look like a battlefield, but on a microscopic level a struggle for space and food is taking place between rival species of bacteria.

One of the weapons they have long been suspected of using is antibiotics.

Among the bugs that like to invade the nose is Staphylococcus aureus, including the dreaded superbug strain MRSA.

It is found in the noses of 30% of people.

But why not everyone?
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Cloning does not cause long-term health issues, study finds

Cloning does not cause long-term health issues, study finds | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
wenty years ago Dolly – the first mammal to be cloned – was born to global fanfare. The ground-breaking animal has long been deceased but genomic copies are living on healthily.

Four sheep, all female Finn-Dorset clones, derived from the same mammary gland cell line Dolly was created from have all aged with no major issues and show no more than mild signs of the degenerative osteoarthritis suffered by the original clone.

Debbie, Denise, Dianna and Daisy, all nine, were born in 2007 and have outlived Dolly, who died aged 6.5 years old. Their good health is being hailed as a success for cloning as there's "no evidence" of a "detrimental long-term" health effect in the miniature flock. The results will help to quell fears that clones typically age faster than animals which are born naturally.

The foursome make up part of 13 sheep cloned and medically examined by an international team of biologists, which has published its findings in the journal Nature Communications.

"There's a cohort of embryos that implant, go to term, produce viable offspring, which then over the next eight to 10 years age normally and they're healthy," Kevin Sinclair, the lead author of the work, from Nottingham University, told WIRED.

"We can say with confidence that at least some embryos are able to successfully complete this whole process."
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This 'placenta on a chip' mimics the real thing - Futurity

This 'placenta on a chip' mimics the real thing - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The first placenta-on-a-chip can fully model the transport of nutrients between mother and fetus.

The flash-drive-sized device contains two layers of human cells that model the interface. Microfluidic channels on either side of those layers allow researchers to study how molecules are transported through, or are blocked by, that interface.

Like other organs-on-chips—such as ones developed to simulate lungs, intestines, and eyes—the placenta-on-a-chip provides a unique capability to mimic and study the function of that human organ in ways that have not been possible using traditional tools.

Research on the team’s placenta-on-a-chip is part of a US effort sponsored by the March of Dimes to identify causes of preterm birth and ways to prevent it. Prematurely born babies may experience lifelong, debilitating consequences, but the underlying mechanisms of this condition are not well understood due in part to the difficulties of experimenting with intact, living human placentas.
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Germ-inspired microbots shape shift to deliver drugs, unclog arteries

Germ-inspired microbots shape shift to deliver drugs, unclog arteries | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
According to the World Health Organization, up to 20,000 people still suffer from African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness, which once made many parts of central Africa almost uninhabitable. Scientists from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne (EPFL) and the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ) have manages to salvage some good from this scourge, however, by using the protozoa that causes the disease as the model for a new class of microbots designed to deliver drugs with precision and carry out other medical procedures such as clearing out clogged arteries and other forms of microsurgery.

Microbots have made great strides in recent years, with developments ranging from tiny experimental robots that can swim through the bloodstream to origami-like creations designed to be swallowed. But one of the tricky problems is figuring out how these microbots are supposed to propel themselves through a miniature world where standard propellers aren't very efficient.

Selman Sakar at EPFL and Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson at ETHZ are developing and testing a number of configurations of microbots that can not only move about, but can be produced quickly and in quantity using a new manufacturing technique. The result is a robot that can be controlled using an electromagnetic field and, when heated, can alter its shape.
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Why 'smart drugs' can make you less clever

Why 'smart drugs' can make you less clever | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
It is an open secret: while athletes dope their bodies, regular office workers dope their brains. They buy prescription drugs such as Ritalin or Provigil on the internet’s flourishing black market to boost their cognitive performance.

It is hard to get reliable data on how many people take such “smart drugs” or “pharmacological cognitive enhancement substances”, as scientists call them. Prevalence studies and surveys suggest, though, that people from different walks of life use them, such as researchers, surgeons, and students. In an informal poll among readers of the journal Nature, 20% reported that they had taken smart drugs. And it seems that their use is on the rise.

So, if you are in a demanding and competitive job, some of your colleagues probably take smart drugs. Does this thought worry you? If so, you are not alone. Studies consistently find that people see brain doping negatively.

A main concern is fairness. Imagine that while you are going for a run to boost your mental energy, your colleague is popping Ritalin instead. While you believe in your afternoon nap to regain concentration, your office mate relies on Provigil. Unfair? The general public thinks that taking smart drugs is cheating, because it can give users a competitive edge. In fact, even several academics have argued that brain doping is unfair towards people who don’t do it.
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From perspiration to world domination – the extraordinary science of sweat

From perspiration to world domination – the extraordinary science of sweat | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
I’m writing this on the UK’s hottest day of the year. There is a light breeze, but everyone I have seen today has beads of sweat on their forehead. Seeing someone wiping their brow is a fairly common sight in midsummer, but it reveals a simple and fascinating truth about our species: without sweat, we would not still be here. Without this absolutely amazing technology we would not have climbed our way to the top of the evolutionary pile. Many animals perspire, but no others use it as such an efficient and refined cooling technology. So how does it work and why do we owe it so much?

We often assume that it is our brain power that differentiates us from other animals. It is obvious that we are able to process more intellectual stimuli than other mammals, but any PC owner knows that computational power is completely useless if the cooling system fails. And this is what really sets us apart. It is our ability to maintain an effective working temperature, not just so that we can keep moving, but so that we can keep thinking while in motion, efficiently chasing down the quarry.

As a species, over short distances, we are hopeless runners. We might be able to go a long way but what use is that if we can’t catch anything? The truth is that we never could if it weren’t for several factors that make us identifiably human. And it is our ability to perspire which renders them all effective. So we may have perfect bodies for distance running, but those features that enable us to move so effectively are useless without correct temperature control.
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"Harpoon" negates need for open-heart surgery

"Harpoon" negates need for open-heart surgery | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Open-heart surgery is risky and can take patients months to recover from. Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center have developed a device that eliminates the need for such surgery for those suffering degenerative mitral regurgitation (MR). Not only does the device reduce time spent on the operating table, but it could eventually see patients heading home from hospital the day after a heart operation.

Degenerative mitral regurgitation is a common heart valve disorder that affects around eight million people in the US alone. It is caused by a leaky heart valve, in which the small cords that control the valve's flaps are broken or stretched and cause blood to flow in the wrong direction. To repair the valve, invasive open-heart surgery is carried out to replace the small cords in a procedure that requires surgical skill and experience.

The Harpoon TSD-5 device built by Harpoon Medical of Baltimore is based on technology developed by the University of Maryland Medical Center and makes the job easier for surgeons and safer and less intrusive for patients.
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Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus | KurzweilAI

Middle-age-plus memory decline may just be a matter of changing focus | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Are you middle-aged or older and having problems remembering details, like where you left the keys or parked your car?

Cheer up, it may simply be the result of a change in what information your brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval, rather than a decline in brain function, according to a study by McGill University researchers.

In the study, published in the journal, NeuroImage, 112 healthy adults ranging in age from 19 to 76 years were shown a series of faces. Participants were then asked to recall where a particular face appeared on the screen (left or right) and when it appeared (least or most recently). The researchers used functional MRI to analyze which parts of brain were activated during recall of these details.

Different parts of the brain involved

Senior author Natasha Rajah, Director of the Brain Imaging Centre, and colleagues found that young adults activated their visual cortex while successfully performing this task.

But for middle-aged and older adults, their medial prefrontal cortex was activated instead. That’s a part of the brain known to be involved with information having to do with one’s own life and introspection. This may reflect changes in what adults deem “important information” as they age, she said.

Rajah says middle-aged and older adults can improve their recall abilities by learning to focus on external rather than internal information, using mindfulness meditation, for example.*

Rajah is currently analyzing data from a similar study to discern if there are any gender differences in middle-aged brain function as it relates to memory. “At mid-life women are going through a lot of hormonal change. So we’re wondering how much of these results is driven by post-menopausal women.”

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by a grant from the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.
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The cure for insomnia is to fall in love with sleep again – Rubin Naiman | Aeon Essays

In Evelyn De Morgan’s numinous painting, Night and Sleep (1878), Nyx, the mighty Greek goddess of night, hovers across a dusky sky with her beloved son Hypnos, the sweet-natured god of sleep. The painting and the Greek gods it captures depict a radically different way of understanding and relating to sleep. In antiquity sleep was personified, transcendent, even romantic.

Both Nyx and Hypnos had personality. Nyx was beautiful, shadowy and formidable – the only goddess Zeus ever feared. A Mother Nature figure with attitude, she was most protective of her son, even when he engaged in divine mischief. Which he did. But Hypnos was also gentle and benevolent, an androgynous mamma’s boy. Occupying a liminal zone between sleep and waking, he often seemed a bit dreamy. If he showed up at a sleep clinic today, he would likely be diagnosed with narcolepsy – a disorder of heightened permeability in the boundary between waking and sleep.

Nyx and Hypnos were denizens of the underworld. She was the original night owl, a fierce guardian of nature’s circadian rhythms who magically transformed day into night. With her support, as seen in De Morgan’s painting, Hypnos gently scatters crimson poppies, sleep elixirs, over the planet below. As in the more recent tale of the Sandman who sprinkles sleepy dust over the eyes of children, sleep is bequeathed from above. That sleep is grace.

Nyx and Hypnos were a dynamic duo of sorts – supernatural heroes who romanticised night and sleep. Nyx gave birth to sleep and created an aesthetic of darkness where Hypnos could flourish. And Hypnos loved sleep. Surrounded by fields of wild poppies on the River of Oblivion, his lair was a sanctuary – a cool, magical retreat open to all in celebration of the sensual, even sexy, mysteries of sleep.

Today, mother and son have been largely forgotten. Nyx has been in exile for well over a century as our night sky is eroded by light pollution. And Hypnos is remembered mainly by his namesakes, hypnosis and, surely to his chagrin, hypnotics. Sleep is no longer personal, transcendent and romantic – it is medical, mundane and pragmatic.
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Freaky new evidence suggests your immune system could be controlling your behaviour

Freaky new evidence suggests your immune system could be controlling your behaviour | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
We all like to think of ourselves as totally unique, independent individuals, in charge of our own destinies. But new research has found evidence that our behaviour, and maybe even our personalities, could be influenced by something totally unexpected - our immune systems.

Researchers have shown that by switching off just one immune molecule in mice, they can change the way the animals behave and interact with each other - which suggests the immune system may play a role in conditions such as autism-spectrum disorder or schizophrenia.

Before we get too carried away, this is early research that's only been conducted in rodents for now. But the researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine were able to clearly show that by simply changing the way the immune system responds to pathogens, they could trigger antisocial behaviour in mice.

Restoring the molecule returned the mouse personalities to normal.

"It’s crazy, but maybe we are just multicellular battlefields for two ancient forces: pathogens and the immune system," said lead researcher, Jonathan Kipnis. "Part of our personality may actually be dictated by the immune system."
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Obesity 'puts men at greater risk of early death' - BBC News

Obesity 'puts men at greater risk of early death' - BBC News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Being overweight or obese puts men at a greater risk of dying prematurely than women, the largest ever study on obesity and death suggests.

Scientists say though the reasons behind the trend are unclear, the study supports others that suggest obese men are at higher risk of diabetes and have higher levels of dangerous liver fat.

The authors say second to smoking, obesity is the most significant cause of death in Europe and North America.

The report appears in the Lancet.
'Obesity challenges'

A global consortium of researchers pulled together data from 189 studies across the world, involving almost four million people.

They focused on people who had never smoked and did not have a long-term illnesses when the studies started - in an attempt to exclude people who had lost weight through heavy smoking or serious ill health.

Overall, they found the risk of death increased the more overweight a person was.

And the links between obesity and death were strongest for men.

Giving an example of an obese but otherwise healthy man in North America, they estimate the risk of death before the age of 70 to be about 29%, compared with 19% for a man of normal weight.

Meanwhile, they say the risks for a woman in North America would rise from 11% at a healthy weight to 14.6% if she were moderately obese.

Prof Sir Richard Peto, said: "Smoking causes about a a quarter of all premature deaths in Europe and North America, and smokers can halve their risk of premature death by stopping.
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These 'no-go' neurons tell brain to stop drinking - Futurity

These 'no-go' neurons tell brain to stop drinking - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Activating particular neurons may be a way to control alcohol-drinking, a new study suggests.

Prior research has shown that alcohol consumption alters the physical structure and function of medium spiny neurons, in the dorsomedial striatum. Essentially, this means that activation of one type of neuron, called D1, determines whether one drink leads to two. Now, scientists have discovered the ones that tell us to stop.

These neurons can be thought of like a tree, with branches, and small protrusions, or spines, coming off of them. Each neuron has one of two types of dopamine receptors—D1 or D2—and so can be thought of as either D1 or D2 neurons.

D1 neurons are informally called part of a “go” pathway in the brain, while D2 neurons are in the “no-go” pathway. In other words, when D2 neurons are activated, they discourage action—telling you to wait, to stop, to do nothing.

“At least from the addiction point of view, D2 neurons are good,” says Jun Wang, assistant professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M University College of Medicine. “When they are activated, they inhibit drinking behavior, and therefore activating them is important for preventing problem drinking behavior.”

The trouble is, even in individuals without alcoholism, D2 neurons tend to become deactivated when we drink too much. This deactivation means there is nothing telling us to stop drinking, so we drink more, in a self-perpetuating cycle.

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Your Nose May Have Drugs in It, the Antibiotic Kind

Your Nose May Have Drugs in It, the Antibiotic Kind | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The human nose is a battleground for bacteria and some of them could prove to be our allies.

Researchers have discovered a new antibiotic, produced by nose-dwelling bacteria, that kills antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including MRSA.

The study, published in Nature, shows that the human microbiome — the microorganisms living on and within us — could be an important source for new antibiotics, desperately needed as infectious bacteria become resistant to our current antibiotic drugs.

“It was totally unexpected to find a human associated bacterium to produce real antibiotics,” says Andreas Peschel, a lead scientist of the study and microbiologist at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

“It’s not just a new molecule, it’s … a new mode of action that gives hope,” he says.
Lethal Lugdunin

Peschel and colleagues swabbed 37 noses and found that some contained the bacterium Staphylococcus lugdunesis, which stops the growth of a slew of infectious bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, the pathogen responsible for MRSA infections. S. lugdunesis does this by producing an antibiotic, lugdunin—its evolutionary weapon against other bacteria competing to live in the human nose.
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Can a stem cell gene called Nanog reverse aging? - Futurity

Can a stem cell gene called Nanog reverse aging? - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
In a series of experiments, an embryonic stem cell gene kicked into action dormant cellular processes that are key to preventing weak bones, clogged arteries, and other telltale signs of growing old.

The gene, called Nanog, also shows promise in counteracting premature aging disorders such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

“Our research into Nanog is helping us to better understand the process of aging and ultimately how to reverse it,” says Stelios T. Andreadis, professor and chair of the chemical and biological engineering department at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

To battle aging, the human body holds a reservoir of nonspecialized cells that can regenerate organs. These cells, called adult stem cells, are located in every tissue of the body and respond rapidly when there is a need.

But as people age, fewer adult stem cells perform their job well, a scenario which leads to age-related disorders. Reversing the effects of aging on adult stem cells—essentially rebooting them—can help overcome this problem, scientists say.

Andreadis has previously shown that the capacity of adult stem cells to form muscle and generate force declines with aging. Specifically, he examined a subcategory of muscle cells called smooth muscle cells which reside in arteries, intestines, and other tissues.

Panagiotis Mistriotis, a graduate student in Andreadis’ lab and first author of the study in the journal Stem Cells, introduced Nanog into aged stem cells. The findings show that Nanog opens two key cellular pathways: Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) and Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β).

In turn, this jumpstarts dormant proteins (actin) into building cytoskeletons that adult stem cells need to form muscle cells that contract. Force generated by these cells ultimately helps restore the regenerative properties that adult stem cells lose due to aging.
“Not only does Nanog have the capacity to delay aging, it has the potential in some cases to reverse it,” says Andreadis, noting that the embryonic stem cell gene worked in three different models of aging: cells isolated from aged donors, cells aged in culture, and cells isolated from patients with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
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Simple process extends milk's shelf life by weeks

Simple process extends milk's shelf life by weeks | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A new process could drastically improve milk's staying power. Researchers at Purdue University have developed a quick-fire way to add several weeks of shelf life to milk and make it generally safer to consume. The process improves upon pasteurization, which extends shelf life to about two to three weeks, and brings the length of time milk can be safely stored in the fridge up to around seven weeks.

Pasteurization is a treatment first developed in the 19th century in which milk is heated to high temperatures for a short time (HTST) to reduce microbes that cause spoilage. When used in addition to pasteurization, Purdue food science professor Bruce Applegate says this new process can "add shelf life of up to five, six or seven weeks to cold milk."

The treatment involves exposing milk to low heat and pressure variation for short increments. The team found that heating milk stored at 4° C (39° F) by 10° C (18° F) for less than a second removed more than 99 percent of the bacteria still remaining after pasteurization — meaning there is less bacteria to grow inside the carton, which lets the milk last longer.
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Cinnamon adds some spice to learning

Cinnamon adds some spice to learning | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
If you have trouble learning, you might want to try eating more cinnamon. That's according to new research from Dr. Kalipada Pahan, a neuroscientist at Rush University and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. Already, he's found that "slow learner" mice do better at finding their way through mazes, after a month of ingesting the spice.

Pahan and colleagues initially started by testing mice in mazes, to separate the poor learners from the good learners. The poor learners tended to make more wrong turns, and took longer to find the food reward at the end of the maze – an average of about 150 seconds. After eating cinnamon for a period of one month, however, their maze-solving time was down to around 60 seconds. That was right in line with the performance of the good learners.

The secret apparently lies with several compounds within cinnamon including cinnamaldehyde, which gives the spice its distinctive smell and flavor. Those compounds are metabolized by the liver into a chemical known as sodium benzoate, which subsequently enters the brain. There, it stimulates plasticity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that's responsible for memory.

Additionally, when examining the brains of mice from the two groups, it was found that the poor learners initially had more of the protein GABRA5 and less of one called CREB. After the cinnamon treatment was complete, though, those proteins were at the same levels as those of the good learners.
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Menopause reversal restores periods and produces fertile eggs

Menopause reversal restores periods and produces fertile eggs | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
MENOPAUSE need not be the end of fertility. A team claims to have found a way to rejuvenate post-menopausal ovaries, enabling them to release fertile eggs, New Scientist can reveal.

The team says its technique has restarted periods in menopausal women, including one who had not menstruated in five years. If the results hold up to wider scrutiny, the technique may boost declining fertility in older women, allow women with early menopause to get pregnant, and help stave off the detrimental health effects of menopause.

“It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material,” says Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a gynaecologist at the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens.

“It is potentially quite exciting,” says Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK. “But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be.”

Women are thought to be born with all their eggs. Between puberty and the menopause, this number steadily dwindles, with fertility thought to peak in the early 20s. Around the age of 50, which is when menopause normally occurs, the ovaries stop releasing eggs – but most women are already largely infertile by this point, as ovulation becomes more infrequent in the run-up. The menopause comes all-too-soon for many women, says Sfakianoudis.
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Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions

Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The brain looks like a featureless expanse of folds and bulges, but it’s actually carved up into invisible territories. Each is specialized: Some groups of neurons become active when we recognize faces, others when we read, others when we raise our hands.

On Wednesday, in what many experts are calling a milestone in neuroscience, researchers published a spectacular new map of the brain, detailing nearly 100 previously unknown regions — an unprecedented glimpse into the machinery of the human mind.

Scientists will rely on this guide as they attempt to understand virtually every aspect of the brain, from how it develops in children and ages over decades, to how it can be corrupted by diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

“It’s a step towards understanding why we’re we,” said David Kleinfeld, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research.

Scientists created the map with advanced scanners and computers running artificial intelligence programs that “learned” to identify the brain’s hidden regions from vast amounts of data collected from hundreds of test subjects, a far more sophisticated and broader effort than had been previously attempted.
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Scientists "outsmart Mother Nature" to combat deadly virus

Scientists "outsmart Mother Nature" to combat deadly virus | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Coxsackievirus B can be deadly, leading to heart disease and, in some cases, death. Now scientists at Colorado State University (CSU) have developed a method to combat the virus. Described as a "genetic poison pill," the technique restricts the ability of the virus to replicate and can even cause it to self-destruct. The approach could one day lead to a vaccine against coxsackievirus B and similar viruses.

Led by CSU professor Olve Peersen, previous research into how coxsackievirus copies itself and mutates focused on the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase responsible for replication. For this follow-up project, Peersen and the team worked with the specific strain, coxsackievirus B3, and modified that replicating polymerase so it fights against itself.

As the polymerase replicates the virus genome, it makes several random mistakes in order to continue evolving. The researchers were able to "outsmart Mother Nature," as Peersen puts it, by swapping out one amino acid in the polymerase for another, resulting in a checkmate effect on the virus.
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It may not be long before your doc is prescribing you a dose of virtual reality instead of painkillers

It may not be long before your doc is prescribing you a dose of virtual reality instead of painkillers | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Not so far in the future, your doctor might prescribe playing a few games in virtual reality to ease aches and pains, rather than popping a pill.

That’s Matthew Stoudt’s hope, anyway. He’s the CEO of AppliedVR, a startup that’s building a library of virtual-reality content for alleviating pain and anxiety before, during, and after medical procedures. The company is working with hospitals and doctors to get patients using the technology on Samsung’s Gear VR headset and to study its effectiveness as well.

So far, the company has created three different virtual-reality pain applications, as well as one for reducing anxiety, Stoudt says, and it’s using some third-party content, too. Headsets running AppliedVR’s platform are being used in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics for things like drawing blood and administering epidurals, as well as for pain management after operations.
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Here's what 'free will' looks like in your brain - Futurity

Here's what 'free will' looks like in your brain - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Scientists have for the first time watched the human brain making a purely voluntary decision to act.

Unlike in brain imaging studies where researchers watch as people respond to cues or commands, Johns Hopkins researchers found a way to observe people’s brain activity as they made choices entirely on their own.

The findings, which pinpoint parts of the brain involved in decision-making and action, were recently published in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics.

“How do we peek into people’s brains and find out how we make choices entirely on our own?” asks Susan Courtney, a professor of psychological and brain sciences and senior author of the study. “What parts of the brain are involved in free choice?”
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Is it normal to start forgetting stuff after you turn 40? - Futurity

Is it normal to start forgetting stuff after you turn 40? - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Early in our 40s, we may start to notice it’s harder to remember things, like where we left our car keys. But researchers say this decline in memory may not really be a decline at all.

Rather, they say it may be the result of a change in what information the brain focuses on during memory formation and retrieval.

“This change in memory strategy with age may have detrimental effects on day-to-day functions that place emphasis on memory for details such as where you parked your car or when you took your prescriptions,” says Natasha Raj, associate professor in the psychiatry department at McGill University.

Brain changes associated with dementia are now thought to arise decades before the onset of symptoms. So a key question in current memory research concerns which changes to the aging brain are normal and which are not.

But Rajah says most of the work on aging and memory has concentrated on understanding brain changes later in life.

“So we know little about what happens at midlife in healthy aging and how this relates to findings in late life. Our research was aimed at addressing this issue.”
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Scientists have determined the exact composition of your poo

Scientists have determined the exact composition of your poo | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The mere mention of a 'faecal transplant' might be something that makes a lot of us squirm, but the truth is that poo transplants from one person to another are an increasingly popular treatment for a range of illnesses.

But what's actually in a poo transplant that makes it so beneficial to the recipient? A new study has shed light on exactly what our poo is made of, in the hopes of figuring out how poo transplants actually work.

"There is no doubt that poo can save lives," says biologist Seth Bordenstein from Vanderbilt University. "Right now faecal transplants are used as the treatment of last resort, but their effectiveness raises an important question: When will doctors start prescribing them, or some derivative, first?"

Faecal transplants actually go way back, with evidence of the treatment being used in China as long ago as the 4th century. More recently, in the 16th century, poo transplants were given the nickname "yellow soup", but it's only been in the past five years that interest in the treatment in contemporary Western science has picked up.
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Scientists identify neurons that drive drinking habits

Scientists identify neurons that drive drinking habits | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Alcohol can be a destructive substance when drinking gets out of control, but a recent neurological discovery could lead to a way to help people break addictive cycles. Scientists from the Texas A&M College of Medicine identified the neurons in the brain that enable and discourage drinking habits in mice.

The study, which was published in the most recent issue of the medical journal Biological Psychiatry, says that neurons located in the dorsomedial striatum, the part of the brain that facilitates goal-driven behavior located in the subcortical part of the forebrain, could play a major role in controlling alcohol addiction.

The neurons studied have small, spiny protrusions branching off of them called D1 or D2. Neurons with D1 protrusions encourage actions while neurons with D2 protrusions discourage actions. A previous study by the same team of researchers published in August of last year in the Journal of Neuroscience found that the D1 neuron drove mice to consume more alcohol. The newest study extends from that research and identifies the D2 neuron as the receptor that can stop mice from seeking out another drink when they've had a few too many already.
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