The future of medicine and health
16.6K views | +16 today
Scooped by Wildcat2030
onto The future of medicine and health!

Salivary 'carb breakdown' gene linked to obesity, study shows

Salivary 'carb breakdown' gene linked to obesity, study shows | The future of medicine and health |
UK researchers say discovery suggests dietary advice should focus on genetic predisposition to digest different foods


British researchers have discovered a link between a gene that breaks down carbohydrates and obesity, which may pave the way for more effective, individually tailored diets for people wanting to lose weight.

Researchers at King's College London and Imperial College London found that people with fewer copies of a gene responsible for carbohydrate breakdown may be at higher risk of obesity. The findings, published in Nature Genetics, suggest that dietary advice may need to focus more on a person's digestive system, based on whether they have the genetic predisposition and necessary enzymes to digest different foods.

The salivary amylase gene plays a significant role in breaking down carbohydrates in the mouth at the start of the digestion process. The new study suggests that people with fewer copies of the AMY1 gene have lower levels of this enzyme and so have more difficulty breaking down carbohydrates than those with more copies.

Previous research has found a genetic link between obesity and food behaviours and appetite, but the discovery highlights a genetic link between metabolism and obesity.

No comment yet.
The future of medicine and health
all that concerns the rapid evolution of medicine and health
Curated by Wildcat2030
Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Forgetting Things Could Actually Be Making You Smarter

Forgetting Things Could Actually Be Making You Smarter | The future of medicine and health |
New research suggests bouts of forgetfulness could be caused by a safety mechanism in the brain designed to make sure we're not overloaded with information. In other words, it's a healthy part of the brain's operation.

That might come as a relief if you're always forgetting where you left your house keys, but it could also teach us more about how the brain operates, something scientists are still trying to figure out.

According to the two researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada, memory isn't intended to help transmit the most accurate information, but rather the most useful information that can help us make smart decisions in the future.

"It's important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that's going to help make decisions in the real world," explains one of the researchers, Blake Richards.

Richards and his colleague Paul Frankland reviewed previously published papers taking different approaches to the idea of memory. Some looked at the neurobiology of remembering, or persistence, while others looked at the neurobiology of forgetting, or transience.

"We find plenty of evidence from recent research that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss, and that these are distinct from those involved in storing information," says Frankland.

The researchers found evidence of the deliberate weakening of the synaptic connections between neurons that help to encode memories, as well as signs that new neurons overwriting existing memories, to make them harder to access.

So why is the brain spending time trying to make us forget? Richards and Frankland think there are two reasons.

One, forgetting helps us adjust to new situations by letting go of memories we don't need – so if your favourite coffee shop has moved to the other side of town, forgetting its old location helps you remember the new one.

Second, forgetting allows us to generalise past events to help us make decisions about new ones, a concept known in artificial intelligence as regularisation. If you just remember the main gist of your previous visits to the coffee shop rather than every little detail, then it's less work for your brain to work out how to behave the next time you go in.

"If you're trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision," says Richards.

The researchers also think the amount of forgetting we do could depend on the environment, with a faster pace of change requiring a faster pace of forgetting too.

One experiment mentioned in the paper that Frankland was also a part of involved mice looking for a maze. When the location of the maze was moved, mice that were drugged to forget the old location found the new one more quickly.

There's no doubt forgetting information we need to remember too often is a frustrating experience – and maybe the sign of more serious problems – but the new research suggests a certain level of forgetfulness is actually a built-in mechanism designed to make use smarter.

Maybe that's something to mention at the next trivia night at your local bar.

"We always idealise the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972," says Richards.

"The point of memory is to make you an intelligent person who can make decisions given the circumstances, and an important aspect in helping you do that is being able to forget some information."

The research is published in Neuron.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Scientists say antimicrobial soaps are harmful and don't work

Scientists say antimicrobial soaps are harmful and don't work | The future of medicine and health |
If the label on your hand soap proudly boasts that it kills 99 percent of germs, it might be time to stop using it. According to a consensus statement signed by over 200 scientists and medical professionals, there's no evidence that so-called antimicrobial chemicals actually do anything to prevent illness – and worse, they might be actively harming your health and the environment.

First presented at the DIOXIN International Symposium in 2016, the Florence Statement gathered current research on two specific antimicrobial chemicals, triclosan and triclocarban, which have been widely used for decades. The document pointed out that there's insufficient evidence that these chemicals are safe to use or are even effective in the first place.

"People think antimicrobial hand soaps offer better protection against illness," says Barbara Sattler, an environmental health professor at the University of San Francisco. "But generally, antimicrobial soaps perform no better than plain soap and water."
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

The power of a billion: India's genomics revolution - BBC News

The power of a billion: India's genomics revolution - BBC News | The future of medicine and health |
Could an effort to gather genetic data from its population of one billion people help India take the lead in advanced healthcare?

India is the land of inventors and industry, spices and spirituality - and 1.3 billion human genomes. But although the subcontinent contributes around 20% of the world's population, the DNA sequences of its people make up around 0.2% of global genetic databases.

In a similar vein, 81% of the world's genomic information has been collected from people with European ancestry. Still, this is an improvement from a staggering 96% back in 2009.

At the same time, there's a growing interest in developing new, more effective therapies tailored to an individual's genetic makeup - an idea known as precision or personalised medicine.

Missing out on mapping worldwide genetic diversity is a big mistake, according to Sumit Jamuar, chief executive of Global Gene Corp.

It's a company aiming to democratise healthcare by capturing anonymised genetic data from populations around the world and share it with the global community of academic and pharmaceutical industry researchers. It will start by focusing on populations in South Asia.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Broccoli Could Be a Secret Weapon Against Diabetes, Say Scientists

Broccoli Could Be a Secret Weapon Against Diabetes, Say Scientists | The future of medicine and health |
Broccoli contains an ingredient that can help those with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar level, according to a new study – potentially providing a much-needed treatment option for millions.

A chemical in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and sprouts called sulforaphane is thought to be responsible, having been shown to lower glucose levels in earlier lab experiments on diabetic rats.

To identify suitable compounds to examine, researchers used computer models to identify gene expression changes linked with type 2 diabetes, and then sift through thousands of chemicals that might reverse these changes.

"We're very excited about the effects we've seen and are eager to bring the extract to patients," one of the researchers, Anders Rosengren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told Andy Coghlan at New Scientist.

"We saw a reduction of glucose of about 10 per cent, which is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood."

That 10 percent average reduction was across a sample of 97 human volunteers taking part in a 12-week randomised, placebo-controlled trial. The participants who were obese and who had higher baseline glucose levels to begin with benefitted the most.

The dose was the equivalent of around 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of broccoli daily – a fair few platefuls – but the researchers say it could be adapted into a powder to add to food or drinks.

It's important to note that all but three of those taking part in the trial continued to take metformin, a drug already used to improve blood sugar regulation in people with diabetes.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

We Should Never Have Told People They Could 'Burn Off' Calories

We Should Never Have Told People They Could 'Burn Off' Calories | The future of medicine and health |
Count your steps. Hit the gym. Bike to work. If you've tried to lose weight, you know it's important to get moving.

But with all our emphasis on working out to 'burn off' what we eat, experts say we've missed the real problem: What we eat.

"There's a persistent myth that you can exercise your calories away," Andy Bellatti, a registered dietitian and the cofounder of Dietitians for Professional Integrity, told Business Insider.

In reality, while getting active is important for your mood and overall wellbeing, it generally does not result in rapid weight loss. On the other hand, successfully changing your diet might.

Dietary changes are especially important at the beginning of any new weight loss plan, Bellatti said, since people who are trying to lose weight by dedicating hours each day to exercise may get discouraged when the pounds don't magically melt off.

Instead, it's better to focus on making gradual changes to your diet, such as eating more vegetables and cutting back on refined carbohydrates.

A large recent review of studies involving more than 3,000 obese adults who'd lost weight on a low-calorie diet compared how well they were able to keep it off after they either stuck to a new eating plan or began exercising regularly.

While permanently tweaking their diets appeared to help maintain weight loss, "no significant improvements were seen for … exercise," they wrote.

One reason diet may play such a strong role in weight loss is that exercise burns off far fewer calories than most people think, said Philip Stanforth, a professor of exercise science at the University of Texas and the executive director of the Fitness Institute of Texas.

This holds especially true when compared to the high caloric content of many processed and fast foods like burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Many classic fast food meals can add up to thousands of calories, sometimes exceeding the amount most adults need in a day.

"Thinking practically, keep in mind you'd have to walk 35 miles to burn 3,500 calories," Stanforth said. "That's a lot of walking."

35 miles is 56 kilometres. That's 2.6 times the length of Manhattan.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Scientists Have Discovered a Chemical That Causes Any Skin Type to Tan

Scientists Have Discovered a Chemical That Causes Any Skin Type to Tan | The future of medicine and health |
It's the complete package: a chemical that can trigger the release of dark pigment in any type of skin tone - even in redheads - while also boosting the body's natural defences against skin cancer.

The new compound, which would work in conjunction with sunscreen, offers a temporary boost in melanin production - the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour. If it proves effective in human trials, it could see the end of bad fake tans, and give fair-skinned people better protection when out in the elements.

"It would not actually be a fake tan, it would be the real thing," one of the team, David Fisher from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, told The Guardian. "It would just be sunless."

Back in 2006, Fisher and his colleagues discovered that a plant extract called forskolin could produce a cancer-protecting tan in red-haired mice, without being triggered by harmful UV radiation (sunlight).

That was a pretty big deal, because when your red-headed friend complains about going from pale to a straight-up burn when they hit the beach - with no tan in between - they're not just overreacting.

Redheads contain a variant of the MC1R gene, which not only imparts red hair and fair skin, but also messes with a receptor molecule that sits on the surface of skin cells called melanocytes.

In non-redheads, this receptor works with the melanocytes to produce dark melanin pigments on the skin in response to UV radiation, but by some cruel twist of fate, the redhead variant doesn't do this, so the skin tends to burn.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

The Biggest Reason You Gain Weight as You Age Has Nothing to Do With Your Metabolism

The Biggest Reason You Gain Weight as You Age Has Nothing to Do With Your Metabolism | The future of medicine and health |
You've probably heard that once you hit 40, it's all downhill when it comes to your weight.

That inexplicable force we call our metabolism does begin to grind a bit slower every year from age 30 onward.

Here's the good news: The rate at which your metabolism slows down is actually rather minimal. In reality, most weight gain that happens in midlife isn't the result of a slower metabolism at all.

Instead, it comes down to a simple but changeable truth: As we get older, we get less and less active.

While this might sound depressing, it's actually great news. There's plenty we can do to counteract the slow, seemingly inevitable onset of poundage. But first, here are some basics about what metabolism is - and what it isn't.

How your body burns energy

Our resting metabolic rate is a measure of how much energy we expend - or 'burn' - when we're at rest. It's determined by a combination of factors, including your height, sex, and the genes you got from your parents, and it can't be altered much, no matter what you do.

Beyond that, our bodies appear to enter into three more distinct phases of calorie burning, depending on what we're doing. These three are the types of metabolism that most people are referring to when they say doing certain things, like eating spicy food or working out, can "boost" your metabolism.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

This Controversial Startup Is Attempting to 'Reverse Death' in Brain-Dead Patients

This Controversial Startup Is Attempting to 'Reverse Death' in Brain-Dead Patients | The future of medicine and health |
Bioquark is about to begin a trial that will attempt to bring brain-dead patients back to life using stem cells. However, the trial is raising numerous scientific and ethical questions for other experts in the field.

Researchers seem to be setting their sights on increasingly lofty goals when it comes to the human body – from the world's first human head transplant, to fighting ageing, and now reversing death altogether.

Yes, you read that right. A company called Bioquark hopes to bring people who have been declared clinically brain-dead back to life. The Philadelphia-based biotech company is expected to start on the project later this year.

This trial was originally intended to go forward in 2016 in India, but regulators shut it down. Assuming this plan will be substantially similar, it will enrol 20 patients who will undergo various treatments.

The stem cell injection will come first, with the stem cells isolated from that patient's own blood or fat.

Next, the protein blend gets injected directly into the spinal cord, which is intended to foster growth of new neurons. The laser therapy and nerve stimulation follow for 15 days, with the aim of prompting the neurons to make connections.

Meanwhile, the researchers will monitor both behaviour and EEGs for any signs of the treatment causing any changes.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

World-First Trials Have Been Launched to Treat Parkinson's And Blindness With Embryonic Stem Cells

World-First Trials Have Been Launched to Treat Parkinson's And Blindness With Embryonic Stem Cells | The future of medicine and health |
In a world first, surgeons in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou are planning to inject stem cells derived from human embryos into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease with the aim of treating their debilitating symptoms.

Meanwhile, another medical team in the same city is aiming to target vision loss using embryonic stem cells (ESC) to replace lost cells in the retina, marking a new direction in China in the wake of major changes in how the country regulates stem cell treatments.

While similar treatments on Parkinson's patients have already been tested in Australia, those trials relied on cells taken from eggs that were forced to divide without first being fertilised in an effort to circumvent any ethical concerns.

Stem cells are a little like blank slates that are yet to take on a specific task. If you rewind the clock on any of your body's tissues, its cells will become less specialised, until you're left with a cell with a lot of potential to become nearly anything.

In the case of both kinds of embryonic stem cells, divided egg cells are subjected to various treatments to encourage them to develop into replacement cells that could treat a condition in a recipient.

The symptoms of Parkinson's disease are largely caused by a loss of nervous tissue deep inside the brain in an area called the basal ganglia.

Losing those cells means a loss of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, and with it a lower ability to control nervous impulses that would prevent muscles in the extremities from activating.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Microbes, Not Food Restriction, Could Be The Key to Our Most Effective Treatment For Obesity

Microbes, Not Food Restriction, Could Be The Key to Our Most Effective Treatment For Obesity | The future of medicine and health |
Gastric bypass surgery is the most effective way for those with morbid obesity to lose weight, but new research has confirmed that there could be more to the procedure's success than just limiting food intake.

It seems the bypass also swaps the ecosystem of microbes in the digestive system for one that increases weight-loss, posing a potential way to achieve bypass's benefits without its risks. Best of all, this new assortment of gut bugs sticks around, helping patients lose weight long after the surgery.

In 2008, researchers from Arizona State University found the types of bacteria in the digestive systems of patients after they'd had a form of bariatric (weight-loss) surgery called a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass had changed dramatically, leading them to wonder if these new microbes might be at least partially responsible for ongoing weight loss.

With a tiny sample size of just three study groups containing three individuals each, it was hard to draw any solid conclusions.

So this time the researchers expanded their population and included patients who had also undergone another form of bariatric surgery called laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (lap-band surgery).

The scientists analysed the diversity of microbial genomes as well as their waste products in 24 people who had undergone a gastric bypass procedure.

They then compared the results with samples taken from 14 patients who had lap-band surgery, 15 obese pre-surgery patients, and 10 patients within a healthy weight range.

As previously found, the researchers saw the microbes living in the guts of those who had their digestive tract rerouted were distinct from those of obese patients prior to surgery.

They also showed that the diversity of microorganisms was vastly higher post-surgery. Typically, the diversity of microbes decreases with an increase in weight.

"Diversity is good because of what we call functional redundancy," says Rosa Krajmalnik Brown from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

They also showed the microbes were also different to not only people within a healthy weight range, but to those who had lap-band surgery as well.

"This is one of the first studies to show that anatomically different surgeries with different success rates have different microbiome and microbiome-related outcomes," says lead researcher Zehra Esra Ilhan.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

The Brain Literally Starts Eating Itself When It Doesn't Get Enough Sleep

The Brain Literally Starts Eating Itself When It Doesn't Get Enough Sleep | The future of medicine and health |
The reason we sleep goes far beyond simply replenishing our energy levels every 12 hours - our brains actually change states when we sleep to clear away the toxic byproducts of neural activity left behind during the day.

Weirdly enough, the same process starts to occur in brains that are chronically sleep-deprived too - except it's kicked into hyperdrive. Researchers have found that persistently poor sleep causes the brain to clear a significant amount of neurons and synaptic connections, and recovering sleep might not be able to reverse the damage.

A team led by neuroscientist Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy has examined the mammalian brain's response to poor sleeping habits, and found a bizarre similarity between the well-rested and sleepless mice.

Like the cells elsewhere in your body, the neurons in your brain are being constantly refreshed by two different types of glial cell - support cells that are often called the glue of the nervous system.

The microglial cells are responsible for clearing out old and worn out cells via a process called phagocytosis - meaning "to devour" in Greek.

The astrocytes' job is to prune unnecessary synapses (connections) in the brain to refresh and reshape its wiring.

We've known that this process occurs when we sleep to clear away the neurological wear and tear of the day, but now it appears that the same thing happens when we start to lose sleep.
Zahir Chaudhary's curator insight, May 27, 6:07 PM
The brain needs sleep to regenerate itself!  The body also needs sleep to repair itself!

For more information, call Zahir Chaudhary - 07921004705 @ Chelsea Osteopaths, Wembley Osteopaths, Harrow Osteopathic Clinic to see how we can reduce your pain now!
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Why Bad Moods Are Good For You: The Surprising Benefits of Sadness

Why Bad Moods Are Good For You: The Surprising Benefits of Sadness | The future of medicine and health |
Homo sapiens is a very moody species. Even though sadness and bad moods have always been part of the human experience, we now live in an age that ignores or devalues these feelings.

In our culture, normal human emotions like temporary sadness are often treated as disorders. Manipulative advertising, marketing and self-help industries claim happiness should be ours for the asking. Yet bad moods remain an essential part of the normal range of moods we regularly experience.

Despite the near-universal cult of happiness and unprecedented material wealth, happiness and life satisfaction in Western societies has not improved for decades.

It's time to re-assess the role of bad moods in our lives. We should recognise they are a normal, and even a useful and adaptive part of being human, helping us cope with many everyday situations and challenges.

A short history of sadness

In earlier historical times, short spells of feeling sad or moody (known as mild dysphoria) have always been accepted as a normal part of everyday life. In fact, many of the greatest achievements of the human spirit deal with evoking, rehearsing and even cultivating negative feelings.

Greek tragedies exposed and trained audiences to accept and deal with inevitable misfortune as a normal part of human life. Shakespeare's tragedies are classics because they echo this theme. And the works of many great artists such as Beethoven and Chopin in music, or Chekhov and Ibsen in literature explore the landscape of sadness, a theme long recognised as instructive and valuable.

Ancient philosophers have also believed accepting bad moods is essential to living a full life. Even hedonist philosophers like Epicurus recognised living well involves exercising wise judgement, restraint, self-control and accepting inevitable adversity.

Other philosophers like the stoics also highlighted the importance of learning to anticipate and accept misfortunes, such as loss, sorrow or injustice.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Battery-free medical implants use body's fluids as fuel

Battery-free medical implants use body's fluids as fuel | The future of medicine and health |
Despite the continual evolution of medical implant technologies, such as making smaller and smaller pacemakers, we still power these devices with traditional batteries. Such batteries contain toxic chemicals that aren't ideal to have inside the human body and also need to be periodically replaced, resulting in painful, and risky surgical procedures. A new energy storage system dubbed a "biological supercapacitor" could enable battery-free implantable devices that never need to be replaced.

Over the years we have seen a variety of innovative alternatives for powering medical implants. A German research team developed a type of biological fuel cell that draws its power from a patient's blood sugar; a Korean team looked into harnessing electricity from the body's own muscles; and an electrical engineer from Stanford developed a technique that allowed devices to be wirelessly recharged by radio waves.

Now a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Connecticut have designed a biofriendly supercapacitor system that charges up using electrolytes from biological fluids, such as blood serum and urine. It works in tandem with an energy harvester that can convert heat and motion into electricity that is stored in the supercapacitor.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Answering why ketamine helps depression could lead to safer drugs

Answering why ketamine helps depression could lead to safer drugs | The future of medicine and health |
First synthesized in 1962, ketamine was initially used for pain relief and as an anaesthetic before drifting into recreational circles due to its dissociative and hallucinogenic properties. In recent years the drug has been discovered to have notable rapid-acting effects as an anti-depressant. Despite growing anecdotal support, scientists have not had a clear understanding of how ketamine's anti-depressant effects actually work. A new study has finally solved a key part of the ketamine mystery, discovering how it triggers its anti-depressant effects.

A small, but landmark, study in 2006 showed that ketamine triggered significantly positive effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression within two-hours of intravenous treatment. The study kickstarted a whole new generation of research investigating the drug's unexpected ability to treat a broad variety of mood disorders from depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Over the last decade a multitude of research has barrelled along, solidifying a positive connection between ketamine and depression, but medical research is a slow beast. Too slow for many in fact. A number of "ketamine clinics" have opened in the last few years across the United States offering infusions to patients, for a price.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Are you 'old' yet? The cut-off has shifted - Futurity

Are you 'old' yet? The cut-off has shifted - Futurity | The future of medicine and health |
Aging should be based on the number of years people are likely to live in a given country in the 21st century, say researchers. By that logic, 70 may be the new 60.

The new study also predicts an end to population aging in the United States and other countries before the end of the century.

Population aging—when the median age rises in a country because of increasing life expectancy and lower fertility rates—is a concern for countries because of the perception that population aging leads to declining numbers of working age people and additional social burdens.

“This study is different from previous research in that we used United Nations forecasts that take uncertainty into account and combine those forecasts with our new measures of aging,” says Warren Sanderson, professor of economics at Stony Brook University and the lead author of the study in PLOS ONE.

“When this is done, it is a virtual certainty that population aging will come to an end in China, Germany, and the US well before the end of the century.”

Sanderson emphasizes that the projections imply that as life expectancies increase people are generally healthier with better cognition at older ages and countries can adjust public policies appropriately as to population aging.

Population aging could peak by 2040 in Germany and by 2070 in China, according to the study, which combines measures of aging with probabilistic population projections from the UN. In the United States, the study shows very little population aging at all in the coming century.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Is Woebot, a mental health chatbot, the future of therapy?

Is Woebot, a mental health chatbot, the future of therapy? | The future of medicine and health |
Chances are at some point over the past few months you have interacted with a Chatbot in some context, be it through a customer service application on a website or just in a futile argument on Twitter. Bots are everywhere, and they're getting smarter by the day, but how far can they go towards replacing all forms of human interaction? A San Francisco-based start-up has just launched an AI therapist, or "mental health chatbot" and it's called Woebot.

Currently accessible only through Facebook Messenger, Woebot monitors you moods and offers automated conversation drawing from a Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) framework. Woebot is currently available for free through a two-week trial. After that you pay a subscription fee to continue your daily "treatments." At US$12 per week, $39 per month or $312 per year, Woebot is certainly cheaper than seeing a real therapist but it is any replacement for real mental health treatment?

After playing with the system for a little while it seems frustratingly prescriptive. The entire tool is less "artificial intelligence" and more an assortment of self-help aphorisms that pick up on certain key words being inputed. The chatbot then spits out prescribed bits of rationalization or inspirational videos to improve your mood.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder?

How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder? | The future of medicine and health |
Does science inspire fiction or does it work the other way around? In the case of medical technology, the long-running TV and film series Star Trek has increasingly been inspiring researchers worldwide. Two teams were recently awarded the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize for developing handheld devices that can diagnose a range of diseases and check a patient’s vital signs without invasive tests – inspired by Star Trek’s medical “tricorder” device.

In the show, a doctor would use the tricorder and its detachable scanner to quickly gather data on a patient and instantly work out what was wrong with them. It could check organ functions and detect diseases and their causes, and also contained data on a range of alien lifeforms. But how close are we really to using such devices (assuming we don’t need them to diagnose aliens)?

The main aim of the two prizewinners is to integrate several technologies in one device. They haven’t created an all-in-one handheld machine but they do both represent significant steps forward.

The main winner, known as DxtER and created by US firm Basil Leaf Technologies, is actually an iPad app with artificial intelligence. It uses a number of non-invasive sensors that can be attached to the body to collect data about vital signs, body chemistry and biological functions. The runner-up technology from Taiwan’s Dynamical Biomarkers Group similarly connects a smartphone to several wireless handheld test modules that can analyse vital signs, blood and urine, and skin appearance.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Nanovaccines could deliver cancer drugs exactly where they're needed

Nanovaccines could deliver cancer drugs exactly where they're needed | The future of medicine and health |
Yvette van Kooyk is making a cancer vaccine at the nano scale. "By using nanotechnology to deliver vaccines into the body, we can create more powerful cancer treatments," says van Kooyk, an immunologist at the VU University Medical Centerin Amsterdam. She's building nanovaccines out of glycans, sugar molecules that naturally bind to receptors on immune cells in the body.

"The glycan is used for specifically targeting the cells that you need," van Kooyk explains. She exploits this trait by attaching the glycans to cancer-fighting antigens, relying on the sugar molecules totransport those antigens directly into the target immune cells, where they trigger an immune response, telling the body to attack its cancerous cells.

Because the vaccine can target immune cells so precisely, "you don't lose your vaccine to other cells," van Kooyk says. That enables the vaccine to launch a targeted and particularly powerful immune response that may be capable of destroying tumours.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Heart Attack? Drones Could Come to Your Rescue

Heart Attack? Drones Could Come to Your Rescue | The future of medicine and health |
TUESDAY, June 13, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Drones have been proposed for some pretty mundane uses, such as delivering pizzas or packages, but new research suggests the high-flying machines could be used to swoop in and save lives.

Swedish researchers think drones can quickly deliver defibrillators to someone whose heart has suddenly stopped beating.

"Each minute that passes after a sudden cardiac arrest decreases the chance of survival by approximately 10 percent," explained lead investigator Andreas Claesson. He's a paramedic with the Center for Resuscitation Science at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

"In rural areas, a drone carrying an AED [automated external defibrillator] could arrive far ahead -- meaning 16 minutes [faster] -- of emergency medical services," he said.

And that, Claesson said, could "potentially save lives through earlier defibrillation as carried out by bystanders onsite."

When someone in a hospital has a sudden cardiac arrest, trained staff can immediately use a life-saving defibrillator. These machines electrically shock the heart in the hope of restoring a normal beating rhythm.

If sudden cardiac arrest happens outside a hospital, emergency teams must battle traffic and distance to deliver defibrillators to those in need.

But the new study suggests that drones might be able to outpace ambulances by speeding unobstructed over clogged roads and long distances to drop an easy-to-use AED into the hands of people already on location.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Eating late may wreak havoc on your body - Futurity

Eating late may wreak havoc on your body - Futurity | The future of medicine and health |
Eating late at night could be worse for your health than you might think.

Compared to eating earlier in the day, prolonged delayed eating can increase weight, insulin, and cholesterol levels, and negatively affect fat metabolism, and hormonal markers implicated in heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems, according to new research.

The findings offer the first experimental evidence on the metabolic consequences of consistent delayed eating compared to daytime eating, and were presented at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies on Sunday.

“We know from our sleep loss studies that when you’re sleep deprived, it negatively affects weight and metabolism in part due to late-night eating, but now these early findings, which control for sleep, give a more comprehensive picture of the benefits of eating earlier in the day,” says Namni Goel, a research associate professor of psychology in psychiatry in the division of sleep and chronobiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and lead author of the ongoing study.

“Eating later can promote a negative profile of weight, energy, and hormone markers—such as higher glucose and insulin, which are implicated in diabetes, and cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked with cardiovascular problems and other health conditions.”
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

11 New Facts Science Has Revealed About The Body

11 New Facts Science Has Revealed About The Body | The future of medicine and health |
1. Hundreds of genes spring to life after you die - and they keep functioning for up to four days. Together with an unexplained case in March that recorded brain activity in a corpse up to 10 minutes after death, we're starting to realise that death as we know it still retains some strange signs of life.

2. Livers grow by almost half during waking hours. New research suggests that livers have the capacity to grow by almost 50 percent during the day, before shrinking back to their original size at night. They are the only organ we know of that oscillate this way.

3. The root cause of eczema has finally been identified. Scientists have tracked down a series of proteins and molecular pathways that lead to this insufferable skin problem, revealing that the protein filaggrin isn't the sole culprit we thought it was.

4. We were wrong - the testes are connected to the immune system after all. Researchers have discovered a "very small door" that allows the testes to send one-way signals to the immune system, and it could explain why some men struggle with infertility, and why certain cancer vaccines keep failing.

5. The causes of hair loss and greying are linked, and for the first time, scientists have identified the cells responsible.

6. A brand new human organ has been classified. Researchers have given the nod to the mesentery - an organ that's been hiding in plain sight in our digestive system this whole time. But that's only half the story, because we're still not sure exactly what it does.

7. An unexpected new lung function has been found. Researchers have found that lungs don't just facilitate respiration - they also play a key role in blood production, with the ability to produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour.

That equates to the majority of platelets in circulation at any given moment.

8. Your appendix might not be a useless evolutionary byproduct after all. Unlike your wisdom teeth, your appendix might actually be serving an important biological function - and one that our species isn't ready to give up just yet.

9. The brain literally starts eating itself when it doesn't get enough sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation causes the 'clearing' process that usually happens when we sleep to kick into hyperdrive, prompting the brain to clear a huge amount of neurons and synaptic connections away.

10. Neuroscientists have discovered a whole new role for the brain's cerebellum.

It's long been assumed that the cerebellum functions largely outside the realm of conscious awareness, coordinating basic physical activities like standing and breathing, but it could actually play a key role in shaping human behaviour.

11. Our gut bacteria are messing with us in ways we could never have imagined.

New research has revealed that neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's might actually start out in the gut, rather than the brain, and there's mounting evidence that the human microbiome could be to blame for chronic fatigue syndrome.

With gut bacteria showing signs of controlling our appetite, changing our brain structure, and triggering brain lesions that could lead to strokes, our tiny passengers are a force to be reckoned with.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

8 Genetic Mutations That Can Give You 'Superpowers'

8 Genetic Mutations That Can Give You 'Superpowers' | The future of medicine and health |
More than 99 percent of your genetic information is exactly the same as every other person on the planet. Your genes determine your skin colour, sex, and hair colour and whether or not you have certain genetic diseases.

But it's in that less than 1 percent that things get interesting. Specific genetic variations allow some of us to acquire certain - dare we say super - qualities. Here are the ways our genes can predispose us to have special abilities.

ACTN3 and the super-sprinter variant

We all have a gene called ACTN3, but certain variants of it help our bodies make a special protein called alpha-actinin-3. This protein controls fast-twitch muscle fibres, the cells responsible for the speedy tensing and flexing of the muscles involved in sprinting or weight-lifting.

This discovery, which happened around 2008 when geneticists studying elite sprinters and power athletes found that very few among them had two defective ACTN3 copies, is what led to the gene being dubbed the 'sports gene'.

Among the general population, however, some 18 percent of us are completely deficient in the speedy-muscle-contracting protein - we inherited two defective copies of ACTN3.

hDEC2 and the super-sleeper mutation

Imagine if you could feel totally energised on just 4 hours of sleep each night. Some people are naturally that way.

These people are called 'short-sleepers', and scientists are only recently uncovering what exactly predisposes them to be this way.

For the most part, researchers believe that the capabilities are connected to specific genetic mutations, and have publicly identified one on the hDEC2 gene.

That means that short-sleeping habits can run in the family, and scientists hope to one day learn how to harness this ability so it can be used to help people switch up their sleeping routines.

TAS2R38 and the supertaster variant

About a quarter of the population tastes food way more intensely than the rest of us.

These 'super tasters' are more likely to put milk and sugar in bitter coffee, or avoid fatty foods. The reason for their reaction, scientists think, is programmed into their genes, specifically one called TAS2R38, the bitter-taste receptor gene.

The variant responsible for super tasting is known as PAV, while the variant responsible for below-average tasting abilities is known as AVI.

LRP5 and the unbreakable mutation

Brittle bones pose a big problem. Researchers have identified a genetic mutation on the LRP5 gene that regulates bone-mineral density, which can cause brittle, weak bones.

So far, scientists have identified multiple mutations to the LRP5 gene that appear to be linked with bone conditions, including juvenile primary osteoporosis and osteoporosis-pseudoglioma syndrome.

But a different type of mutation on the same gene could also have the opposite effect, giving some people extremely dense bones that are practically unbreakable.
No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Whole Body Vibration Offers Many of The Benefits of Exercise, Mouse Study Shows

Whole Body Vibration Offers Many of The Benefits of Exercise, Mouse Study Shows | The future of medicine and health |
Vibration platforms, belts, and accessories have been touted on late-night infomercials for decades as a simple, convenient alternative to actual exercise, but do they really work?

According to a recent study looking at the effects of whole body vibration on mice, yes, they actually do, by mimicking the benefits of exercise on muscle and bone health, and the researchers think the technique could help treat human health conditions too.

"Our study is the first to show that whole body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes," says cellular biologist Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence from Augusta University.

McGee-Lawrence's team examined two groups of mice that took part in a 12-week health intervention. One of these groups consisted of healthy mice, while the other animals were diabetic and obese, due to being deficient in leptin receptors – meaning they couldn't sense fullness after eating.

Both groups were further broken down into three activity-based sub-groups: undergoing 20 minutes of whole body vibration a day, or 45 minutes on a treadmill daily. A third, sedentary sub-group did not perform any exercise during the 12-week experiment.

The idea behind whole body vibration is that when the platform you're standing on vibrates, the forced movement makes muscles repeatedly contract and relax, which in turn can release hormones that are good for the body – such as boosting osteocalcin, which enhances bone health.

"Every time you walk or run or stand on a vibrating platform, your bones are experiencing sheer stress and that sheer stress can change how those metabolically relevant hormones get released," explains one of the team, neuroscientist Alexis M. Stranahan.

In the study, the healthy mice didn't receive a significant benefit from the vibration training, but the obese and diabetic group exhibited the same metabolic benefits from both vibration and using the treadmill.

In comparison to sedentary obese mice, the obese group that took part in exercise or whole body vibration gained less weight, increased their muscle mass, reduced their insulin resistance, and improved their bone strength.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

Scientists Have Reversed Age-Related Blindness by Deliberately Infecting Eyes With a Virus

Scientists Have Reversed Age-Related Blindness by Deliberately Infecting Eyes With a Virus | The future of medicine and health |
A small and preliminary clinical trial has found that injecting a common cold-like virus into the eyes of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) patients - one of the leading causes of blindness in the US - can halt and even reverse the progression of the disease.

The results will need to be replicated in a much larger group of patients, but the early signs suggest that a single injection of the specially engineered virus can kick the body's natural immune response into gear, and clear out the fluid that causes permanent vision loss.

The approach, trialled by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Maryland, targeted a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is overactive in people with wet AMD - a rare and more severe form of the disease, which causes new blood vessels to grow beneath the retina and leak blood and fluid into the eye.

This build-up of fluid causes permanent damage to light-sensitive retinal cells, prompting them to progressively die off, leaving blind spots in the centre of a person's vision. Wet AMD affects around 10 percent of all AMD patients.

While treatments do currently exist for wet AMD, they involve getting injections in the eye once every four weeks - and if you want to maintain the benefits, you have to keep up those monthly injections for the rest of your life.

Side effects of current medications include eye infections and a heightened risk of stroke.

What the team at Johns Hopkins has demonstrated in a handful of patients is that, in some cases, there could be a way to halt and even reverse the progression of wet AMD with a single injection.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Wildcat2030!

This New Glue-Like Substance Could Be The Key to Healing Wounds Without Scars

This New Glue-Like Substance Could Be The Key to Healing Wounds Without Scars | The future of medicine and health |
Our skin is pretty good at protecting the squishy human body from external danger, so the moment that barrier is compromised with a wound or a cut, a defence system has to kick into action.

But that action often results in scar tissue, since we're not really capable of regenerating skin cells to their previous condition. Doctors already use various imperfect solutions to try and minimise scarring, but now researchers have come up with a new substance that borrows its healing power from mussels.

When skin tissue is damaged by a deep cut, it repairs itself by quickly filling up the wound with collagen.

This protein is a key ingredient for normal skin tissue, but when it's growing to cover a wound, the collagen fibres form a scar because they don't arrange themselves in the same neat cross-weave pattern as they do in skin.

Doctors can do their best to minimise scar tissue from forming, but most of the time there's little they can do to prevent a scar altogether.

One option to help a wound heal better is to use an adhesive, based on chemicals similar to those found in Super Glue. But not all wounds can be glued shut, chemically-derived skin glue can cause irritation, and it often doesn't work when you need to keep the wound from drying out.

There's also a substance called decorin, which helps organise collagen into a neater structure, but it's expensive stuff, and tricky to produce in large-enough quantities for medical use.
No comment yet.