Category: Health & Medicine

Why Quality Sleep Grows More Elusive with Age

By Mark Barna | May 1, 2017 10:12 am
insomnia

(Olga Kuevda/Shutterstock)

Middle-agers and seniors on average sleep less than younger people, about 6 to 7 hours a night compared to 8 to 9 hours.

But why is this so? And are older people therefore sleep deprived, which can give rise to chronic maladies and speed up aging? Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

Novel Antibiotic Recipes Could Be Hidden in Medieval Medical Texts

By Erin Connelly, University of Pennsylvania | April 25, 2017 10:20 am
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(Credit: Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock)

For a long time, medieval medicine has been dismissed as irrelevant. This time period is popularly referred to as the “Dark Ages,” which erroneously suggests that it was unenlightened by science or reason. However, some medievalists and scientists are now looking back to history for clues to inform the search for new antibiotics.

The evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes means that it is always necessary to find new drugs to battle microbes that are no longer treatable with current antibiotics. But progress in finding new antibiotics is slow. The drug discovery pipeline is currently stalled. An estimated 700,000 people around the world die annually from drug-resistant infections. If the situation does not change, it is estimated that such infections will kill 10 million people per year by 2050. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: vaccines & drugs

Revisited: The Regenerative Power of Pig Guts

By Adam Piore | March 27, 2017 3:09 pm
pig-guts

(Credit: AVA Bitter/Shutterstock)

Bioengineers have made great strides harnessing the body’s ability to start over, whether regenerating heart tissue and bones, or using stem cells to regrow fingertips. Still, much of regenerative medicine’s promise remains inside the laboratory—or at least that was what I thought when I began reporting for The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human.

Some clinicians, like Dr. Eugenio Rodriguez, aren’t waiting for trials to be completed to help patients. Instead, they are already adding regenerative technologies to their medical toolboxes, and using them to save human limbs. Years ago down in Delray Beach, Florida, Rodriguez, a trauma surgeon, caused a bit of a sensation after exploring the regenerative powers of pig guts. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: biotechnology

Soaking in a Hot Bath Yields Benefits Similar to Exercise

By Steve Faulkner, Loughborough University | March 21, 2017 11:17 am

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Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But only recently has science began to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health. The Conversation

At Loughborough University we investigated the effect of a hot bath on blood sugar control (an important measure of metabolic fitness) and on energy expended (number of calories burned). We recruited 14 men to take part in the study. They were assigned to an hour-long soak in a hot bath (40˚C) or an hour of cycling. The activities were designed to cause a 1˚C rise in core body temperature over the course of one hour. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

VX Nerve Agent: The Deadly Weapon Engineered in Secret

By Carl Engelking | February 24, 2017 4:30 pm
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A World War II-era contamination suit. (Credit: Shutterstock)

In January 1958, two medical officers at Porton Down, Britain’s military science facility, exposed their forearms to 50-microgram droplets of a substance called VX, which was a new, fast-acting nerve agent that could kill by seeping through the skin.

VX, short for “venomous agent X,” is tasteless, odorless and causes uncontrollable muscle contractions that eventually stop a person’s breathing within minutes. That experiment in 1958, according to University of Kent historian Ulf Schmidt, was perhaps the first human test of VX in the Western world. Read More

Metagenomic Sleuthing Treats Illness Like a Crime Scene

By Kim Smuga-Otto | February 16, 2017 1:09 pm

Charles Chiu in the lab with colleague Steve Miller. (Credit: Elisabeth Fall/UCSF)

Pathogens move fast.

You wake up one morning feeling ready to take on the world. On your way to work, you notice your throat’s a bit scratchy, your forehead a bit warm. By lunch you’ve got a pounding headache and it hurts to breathe. Co-workers agree, you’ve got whatever’s been going around. You end the day early, using the last of your strength to drag yourself to bed. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: genes and health

You Might Be in a Medical Experiment and Not Even Know It

By Alice Dreger | January 31, 2017 12:34 pm

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In the long view, modern history is the story of increasing rights of control over your body – for instance, in matters of reproduction, sex, where you live and whom you marry. Medical experimentation is supposed to be following the same historical trend – increasing rights of autonomy for those whose bodies are used for research.

Indeed, the Nuremberg Code, the founding document of modern medical research ethics developed after the Second World War in response to Nazi medical experiments, stated unequivocally that the voluntary, informed consent of the human subject is essential. Every research ethics code since then has incorporated this most fundamental principle. Exceptions to this rule are supposed to be truly exceptional. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

Chromosomes Aren’t the Only Determiners of a Baby’s Sex

By Kristien Boelaert, University of Birmingham | January 18, 2017 12:10 pm
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

The concept of being able to predict the sex of a baby during early pregnancy or even influence it by eating or doing certain things when trying to conceive has been the subject of public fascination and debate for many centuries. But surely the sex of a fetus is exclusively determined by the father’s sperm, carrying an X chromosome for girls and a Y chromosome for boys?

It turns out this is not the full story. Since the 17th century, it has been recognized that slightly more boys are born than girls. This is strange – if the sex were determined solely by chromosomes, the probability of either should be 50 percent and not variable. This must mean that, although the same number of boys and girls are conceived initially, more female fetuses than male ones are lost during the pregnancy. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: sex & reproduction

In Search of a Universal Flu Vaccine

By Ian Setliff and Amyn Murji, Vanderbilt University | January 12, 2017 10:45 am
flu-shot

(Credit: Shutterstock)

No one wants to catch the flu, and the best line of defense is the seasonal influenza vaccine. But producing an effective annual flu shot relies on accurately predicting which flu strains are most likely to infect the population in any given season. It requires the coordination of multiple health centers around the globe as the virus travels from region to region. Once epidemiologists settle on target flu strains, vaccine production shifts into high gear; it takes approximately six months to generate the more than 150 million injectable doses necessary for the American population. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts

We Got The Mesentery News All Wrong

By Carl Engelking | January 6, 2017 4:29 pm
mesentery

The kale-like structure you see here in this 1839 illustration is the mesentery. (Credit: Wellcome Trust)

Earlier this week, a story begging to go viral fell onto writers’ laps: We have a new organ called the mesentery, which is a broad, fan-shaped fold that lines the guts. Here at Discover we pounced on the story, and so did CNN, the Washington Post, LiveScience, Smithsonian, Vice News Tonight, Jimmy Kimmel and many, many more.

We got it all wrong, and it’s time for us to spill our guts.

In our reporting, one burning question we wanted answered was who, or what, determines when a hunk of tissue “officially” becomes an organ. So we posed the question to J. Calvin Coffey, the Limerick University Hospital researcher who presented evidence in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology to “justify designation of the mesentery as an organ.”

“That’s a fascinating question. I actually don’t know who the final arbiter of that is,” he told us. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health
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