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The future of medicine and health
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Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression: Scientific American

Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression: Scientific American | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

Microbes that escape the digestive tract may alter mood-

The digestive tract and the brain are crucially linked, according to mounting evidence showing that diet and gut bacteria are able to influence our behavior, thoughts and mood. Now researchers have found evidence of bacterial translocation, or “leaky gut,” among people with depression.

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Neural activity in the brain is harder to disrupt when we are aware of it

We consciously perceive just a small part of the information processed in the brain – but which information in the brain remains unconscious and which reaches our consciousness remains a mystery.
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A radical new holistic view of health based on cooperation and disease based on competition | KurzweilAI

A radical new holistic view of health based on cooperation and disease based on competition | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A cytoscape analysis of all candidate genes identified at least twice and for which network information was available shows that many of the candidate genes
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Gluttony: Are We Addicted to Eating?: Scientific American

Gluttony: Are We Addicted to Eating?: Scientific American | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Humans who overeat may develop the same neural patterns as drug addicts do

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Eating for pleasure, rather than out of hunger, can prime our brain to want that hedonistic experience more and more.Humans who tend to overeat may develop the same patterns of neural activity in reward areas as drug addicts do; data suggest that eating high-sugar or high-fat diets can lead to cycles of craving and withdrawal.Although the concept of food addiction is controversial, lessons from recent research can put us on a fitter path. Regulating the amount of food choice we give ourselves, for example, and avoiding situations where we are conditioned to eat can help us consume less and feel better.

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Air pollution 'still harming health'

Air pollution 'still harming health' | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Some pollutants continue to pose a "significant threat" to European citizens' health and the environment, says a report by the European Environment Agency.

Air pollution is still continuing to damage European citizens' health and the environment, latest figures show.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) listed tiny airborne particles and ozone as posing a "significant threat".

However, the authors said nations had significantly cut emissions of a number of pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.

In a separate study, research identified a link between low birth-weight and exposure to air pollution.

EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said that EU nations had made considerable progress over recent decades to reduce the visible signs of air pollution, with cities now no longer shrouded in blankets of smog.

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Alzheimer’s treatment breakthrough: British scientists pave way for simple pill to cure disease

Alzheimer’s treatment breakthrough: British scientists pave way for simple pill to cure disease | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Scientists have hailed an historic “turning point” in the search for a medicine that could beat Alzheimer's disease, after a drug-like compound was used to halt brain cell death in mice for the first time.
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How much can an extra hour's sleep change you?

How much can an extra hour's sleep change you? | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

The average Briton gets six-and-a-half hours' sleep a night, according to the Sleep Council. Michael Mosley took part in an unusual experiment to see if this is enough.

It has been known for some time that the amount of sleep people get has, on average, declined over the years.

This has happened for a whole range of reasons, not least because we live in a culture where people are encouraged to think of sleep as a luxury - something you can easily cut back on. After all, that's what caffeine is for - to jolt you back into life. But while the average amount of sleep we are getting has fallen, rates of obesity and diabetes have soared. Could the two be connected?

We wanted to see what the effect would be of increasing average sleep by just one hour. So we asked seven volunteers, who normally sleep anywhere between six and nine hours, to be studied at the University of Surrey's Sleep Research Centre.

The volunteers were randomly allocated to two groups. One group was asked to sleep for six-and-a-half hours a night, the other got seven-and-a-half hours. After a week the researchers took blood tests and the volunteers were asked to switch sleep patterns. The group that had been sleeping six-and-a-half hours got an extra hour, the other group slept an hour less.

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The secret of longevity for the world’s longest-living rodent: better protein creation | KurzweilAI

The secret of longevity for the world’s longest-living rodent: better protein creation | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Naked mole rats are small, hairless, subterranean rodents native to eastern Africa (credit: Adam Fenster/University of Rochester) Better-constructed

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Better-constructed proteins could explain why naked mole rats live long lives — about 30 years — and stay healthy until the very end, resisting cancer, say University of Rochester biologists Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov.

Their work focuses on naked mole rat ribosomes, which assemble amino acids into proteins. Ribosomes are composed of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules and proteins.

When the ribosome connects amino acids together to create a protein, a mistake is occasionally introduced when an incorrect amino acid is inserted. But the researchers found that the proteins made by naked mole rat cells are up to 40 times less likely to contain such mistakes than the proteins made by mouse cells.

Gorbunova and Seluanov discovered a possible reason: the naked mole rat’s rRNA is unique.

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Alton Brown on the End of Meat as We Know It - Wired Science

Alton Brown on the End of Meat as We Know It - Wired Science | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

Fresh out of the extruder, a strip of Beyond Meat not-chicken is warm but not hot, striated like meat, and to the touch feels animal in origin. My mind races to place the musculature … to identify the anatomical source. The closest thing I can come up with is cooked chicken breast, which I suppose is the whole point. I tear it and watch the break, the way the material separates. It’s more like meat than anything I’ve ever seen that wasn’t meat. Looking closely I can see a repeating pattern, like a subtle honeycomb, that reminds me a bit of tripe. I close my eyes and smell, but since the strip hasn’t received any flavoring at this point, I detect only subtle hints of soy.

I take a bite. While the unflavored product tastes distinctly vegetal and still has a bit of what I’d call tofu-bounce, a hint of the spongy, the tear is … meaty.

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Defibrillator Equipped Drones Speed Treatment To Those In Need - PSFK

Defibrillator Equipped Drones Speed Treatment To Those In Need - PSFK | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The Defikopter can fly lifesaving medical equipment to heart attack victims much quicker than emergency responders.

When someone is having a cardiac arrhythmia, getting an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to that person as quickly as possible can often be the difference between life and death. The problem is that AEDs are usually only readily available in high pedestrian traffic areas such as airports or sports stadiums, due to the cost of each device. In less populated areas, it can sometimes take hours for the necessary equipment to arrive. Imagine if there was a quick and easy way to get the lifesaving tools to someone in need, faster than any ambulance or EMT.

The Defikopter is a drone that can deliver a defibrillator to heart attack victims much quicker than emergency responders. Conceived by Germany-based nonprofit Definetz, the system can carry an AED to any location based on its GPS coordinates. Although the system is still in the early stages of development, the team are developing a smartphone app that those with heart problems, or their family, can download and have on hand in case of emergency.

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What’s the Longest Lifespan I Could Have?

What’s the Longest Lifespan I Could Have? | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Read the rest of Laura Helmuth's series on longevity. There’s an oddly persistent myth that people have always had a good chance of living to a ripe old age if they could just survive childhood.
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Health kick 'reverses cell ageing'

Health kick 'reverses cell ageing' | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Going on a health kick reverses ageing at the cellular level, claim US researchers who have been studying people's DNA.

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The University of California team says it has found the first evidence a strict regime of exercise, diet and meditation can have such an effect.

But experts say although the study in Lancet Oncology is intriguing, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions.

The study looked at just 35 men with prostate cancer. Those who changed their lifestyle had demonstrably younger cells in genetic terms.

Safety caps

The researchers saw visible cellular changes in the group of 10 men who switched to a vegetarian diet and stuck to a recommended timetable of exercise and stress-busting meditation and yoga.

The changes related to protective caps at the end of our chromosomes, called telomeres.

Their role is to safeguard the end of the chromosome and to prevent the loss of genetic information during cell division.As we age and our cells divide, our telomeres get shorter - their structural integrity weakens, which can tell cells to stop dividing and die.

Researchers have been questioning whether this process might be inevitable or something that could be halted or even reversed.

The latest work by Prof Dean Ornish and colleagues suggests telomeres can be lengthened, given the right encouragement.

They measured telomere length at the beginning of their study and again after five years.

Among the 10 men with low-risk prostate cancer who made comprehensive lifestyle changes, telomere length increased significantly by an average of 10%.

In comparison, telomere length decreased by an average of 3% in the remaining 25 men who were not asked to make any lifestyle changes.

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A Blood Test for Suicide? | Science/AAAS | News

A Blood Test for Suicide? | Science/AAAS | News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

What if a psychiatrist could tell whether someone was about to commit suicide simply by taking a sample of their blood? That’s the promise of new research, which finds increased amounts of a particular protein in the bloodstream of those contemplating killing themselves. The test was conducted on only a few people, however, and given that such “biomarkers” often prove unreliable in the long run, it’s far from ready for clinical use.

Suicide isn’t like a heart attack. People typically don’t reveal early symptoms to their doctor—morbid thoughts, for example, instead of chest pain—and there’s no equivalent of a cholesterol or high blood pressure test to identify those at most risk of killing themselves. "We are dealing with something more complex and less accessible," says Alexander Niculescu III, a psychiatrist at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. So some researchers are eager to find physical signs, called biomarkers, that can be measured in the bloodstream to signal when a person is at a high likelihood of committing suicide.

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Orca Health Launches Mobile Apps to Help Physicians Educate Their Patients (VIDEO)

Orca Health Launches Mobile Apps to Help Physicians Educate Their Patients (VIDEO) | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Orca Health, a Sandy, UT-based mobile healthcare company has developed, with the help of Harvard Medical School, a suite of interactive mobile apps that use touch, sound, and sight to help physicians explain anatomy and procedures to their patients. The suite of apps are intended to drive better patient-doctor interaction and help patients make more informed decisions on their medical conditions. The company has restructured its main offering as a “professional version” for physicians to educate their patients, compared to prior versions that simply provided information on medical issues for various anatomical locations.

Physicians using the apps can send links, images and animations regarding a particular health condition, packaged into an email intended for the patient. Physicians are also able to highlight and annotate anatomical locations of interest on images for their patients. Patients can then view this content by signing into a secure portal either via the Web or through an iOS device.

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I prefer a child with : designer babies, another controversial patent in the arena of direct-to-consumer genomics : Genetics in Medicine : Nature Publishing Group

Taken out of “patentese,” what 23andMe is claiming is a method by which prospective donors of ova and/or sperm may be selected so as to increase the likelihood of producing a human baby with characteristics desired by the prospective parents, the selection being based on a computerized comparison of the genotypic data of the egg provider with that of the sperm provider. The phenotypic characteristics that may be on the users’ (e.g., parents’) “shopping list” can include both disease-related and non–disease-related traits, such as height, eye color, muscle development, personality characteristics, and risks of developing age-related macular degeneration or certain types of cancer.2 Figure 4 of the patent application lists the following alternative choices: “I prefer a child with”: “longest expected life span”/“least expected life cost of health care”/“least expected cumulative duration of hospitalization.” Figure 6 visualizes a choice between the “offspring’s possible traits” of “0% likely endurance athlete” and “100% likely sprinter.”2 Of note, sex is also mentioned as an example of the phenotypic characteristics. 23andMe’s claim is extremely broad insofar as it concerns “selection” for any phenotypic trait, which of course includes polygenetic traits that might be more than a bit difficult to select for; however, in 23andMe’s favor, we must point out that what is claimed is not a cast-iron, fool-proof method guaranteeing that the eventual child will have all the phenotypic traits on the parents’ shopping list, an impossible task, but merely a method of improving the chances that the baby has the “right” characteristics.

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Craig Venter: 'This isn't a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future'

Craig Venter: 'This isn't a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future' | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
The pioneering American scientist, who created the world's first synthetic life, is building a gadget that could teletransport medicine and vaccines into our homes or to colonists in space

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Craig Venter reclines in his chair, puts his feet up on his desk and – gently stroking his milk chocolate-coloured miniature poodle, Darwin, asleep in his arms – shares his vision of the household appliance of the future. It is a box attached to a computer that would receive DNA sequences over the internet to synthesise proteins, viruses and even living cells.

It could, for example, fill a prescription for insulin, provide flu vaccine during a pandemic or even produce phage viruses targeted to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It could help future Martian colonists by giving them access to the vaccines, antibiotics or personalised drugs they needed on the red planet. And should DNA-based life ever be found there, a digital version could be transmitted back to Earth, where scientists could recreate the extraterrestrial organism using their own life-printing box.

"We call it a Digital Biological Converter. And we have the prototype," says Venter. I am visiting the office and labs of Venter's company Synthetic Genomics Incorporated (SGI) in La Jolla, a wealthy seaside enclave north of San Diego, California, where he also lives, because the pioneering American scientist dubbed biology's "bad boy" wants to talk about his new book, released this week.

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Restoring touch for amputees using a touch-sensitive prosthetic hand | KurzweilAI

Restoring touch for amputees using a touch-sensitive prosthetic hand | KurzweilAI | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
New research at the University of Chicago is laying the groundwork for touch-sensitive prosthetic limbs that one day could convey real-time sensory information
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Painkiller in brain buffers social snubs - Futurity

Painkiller in brain buffers social snubs - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

Research shows the brain releases natural painkillers during rejection to ease emotional pain. The discovery may help our understanding of depression and social anxieties.

What’s more, people who score high on a personality trait called resilience—the ability to adjust to environmental change—had the highest amount of natural painkiller activation.

The research team, based at the University of Michigan’s Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, combined advanced brain-scanning that can track chemical release in the brain with a model of social rejection based on online dating.

They focused on the mu-opioid receptor system in the brain—the same system that the team has studied for years in relation to response to physical pain. Over more than a decade, their work has shown that when a person feels physical pain, their brains release chemicals called opioids into the space between neurons, dampening pain signals.

David T. Hsu, the lead author of the new paper that appears in the journal Nature, says the research on social rejection grew out of recent studies by others, which suggest that the brain pathways that are activated during physical pain and social pain are similar.

This is the first study to peer into the human brain to show that the opioid system is activated during social rejection,” says Hsu, a research assistant professor of psychiatry. “In general, opioids have been known to be released during social distress and isolation in animals, but where this occurs in the human brain has not been shown until now.”

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Electric Water Droplets and a Secret to Long Life (in Rats, Anyway)

Electric Water Droplets and a Secret to Long Life (in Rats, Anyway) | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

With a 30-year life span, naked mole rats are the longest living of rodents, if also perhaps the least pleasant looking. (True, it’s a low bar.) The secret to their longevity? Near-perfect protein construction, reported The Science Recorder. Researchers discovered that RNA in naked mole rats has a unique structure that greatly reduces the frequency of errors common in rodent proteins. “Proteins with no aberrations help the body to function more efficiently,” said Andrei Seluanov, a biologist at the University of Rochester.

The scientists now want to try recreating the RNA peculiarity in mice, with an eye toward eventually bettering protein synthesis in humans. Others noted that longevity isn’t the only reason to take interest in the naked mole rat: The animals have an immunity to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which may also stem from their sturdy proteins.

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Stem Cell Breakthrough in Mice Points Toward a Way to Repair Tissue in Humans

Stem Cell Breakthrough in Mice Points Toward a Way to Repair Tissue in Humans | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Some Spanish researchers were the first to turn mature cells into stem cells inside the body itself.
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Liquid biopsy may make cancer diagnosis easier - Futurity

Liquid biopsy may make cancer diagnosis easier - Futurity | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

A microfluidic chip captures elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and can support the cells’ growth for further analysis.

The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers, give more accurate prognoses, and test treatment options on cultured cells without subjecting patients to traditional biopsies.

To test the device, researchers ran one-milliliter samples of blood through the chip’s thin chamber. Even when they had added just 3-5 cancer cells to the 5-10 billion blood cells, the chip was able to capture all of the cells in the sample half the time, with an average of 73 percent over 10 trials.

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Will Peek’s Mobile Eye Exam System Take a Bite Out of Developing World Blindness?

Will Peek’s Mobile Eye Exam System Take a Bite Out of Developing World Blindness? | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
Mobile computing and miniaturized sensors are threatening to transform medicine. Peek, a mobile eye exam system, is a great example of the power of mobile. In tandem with a phone camera, flash, and external clip on device (?
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'Body on a chip' used for drug tests

'Body on a chip' used for drug tests | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it
A technology which puts miniature human organs made with a 3D printer on a microchip is being used to test new drugs and vaccines.
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CDC Threat Report: 'We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era' - Wired Science

CDC Threat Report: 'We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era' - Wired Science | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms, ranking them by the number of illnesses and deaths they cause each year and outlining urgent steps that need to be taken to roll back the trend.

The agency’s overall — and, it stressed, conservative — assessment of the problem:

Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics;Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths;Because of those illnesses and deaths, $20 billion each year in additional healthcare spending;And beyond the direct healthcare costs, an additional $35 billion lost to society in foregone productivity.

“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

 

The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. (It had previously estimated illnesses and deaths from some families of organisms or types of drug resistance, but those numbers were never gathered in one place.) It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria: health impact, economic impact, how common the infection is, how easily it spreads, how much further it might spread in the next 10 years, whether there are antibiotics that still work against it, and whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread.

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A Magnetic Trick to Define Consciousness | Science/AAAS | News

A Magnetic Trick to Define Consciousness | Science/AAAS | News | The future of medicine and health | Scoop.it

Consciousness isn’t easy to define, but we know it when we experience it. It’s not so simple to decide when someone else is conscious, however, as doctors must sometimes do with patients who have suffered traumatic brain injury. Now, researchers have come up with an approach that uses the brain’s response to magnetic stimulation to judge a person’s awareness, reducing it to a numerical score they call an index of consciousness. “You’re kind of banging on the brain and listening to the echo,” says Anil Seth, a neuroscientist at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the work.

Faced with an unresponsive patient, clinicians do their best to determine whether the person is conscious. Through sound, touch, and other stimuli, they try to provoke verbal responses, slight finger movements, or just a shifting gaze. Yet some conscious patients simply can’t move or speak; an estimated 40% of those initially judged to be completely unaware are later found to have some level of consciousness.

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