Psychological Stress Could Contribute to Developing Diabetes

By Carl Engelking | October 21, 2014 9:25 am

stress diabetes

It’s well known that a stress-filled lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia and a host of other chronic health issues. Now, you can add type 2 diabetes to that list.

Past studies have partly linked stress with the onset of diabetes, but the mechanisms behind why this happens were poorly understood. In a new study, researchers provide evidence of a direct link between psychological stress and biological dysfunction.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Brain Cells With Alzheimer’s Disease Grown in a Petri Dish

By Carl Engelking | October 17, 2014 3:24 pm

petri dish

There’s a new tool for researchers in pursuit of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease: lab-grown brains.

For the first time, neuroscientists from Massachusetts General Hospital have grown functioning human brain cells that develop Alzheimer’s disease in a petri dish. The breakthrough offers researchers a new method to test cures and decipher the origins of the disease. Read More

Will We Have Nuclear Fusion Reactors Within a Decade?

By Carl Engelking | October 16, 2014 2:38 pm

Lockheed Martin engineers work on a version of the nuclear fusion reactor prototype. (Credit: Screenshot form YouTube)

Lockheed Martin Corp. on Wednesday said its engineers had made a breakthrough in the race to build a nuclear fusion reactor.

The company’s secretive research unit, Skunk Works, claims that within a decade it’ll develop and deploy a nuclear fusion reactor that’s powerful enough to light over 80,000 homes, yet small enough to fit in the back of a truck. If the company succeeds, it would mark a major milestone in mankind’s pursuit of a viable nuclear fusion power source. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: energy

Sea Otters’ Strong Teeth Are Similar to Early Humans’

By Carl Engelking | October 15, 2014 12:18 pm

sea otter

For sea otters, a trip to the dentist is no sweat.

The protective enamel on their teeth is more than twice as strong as humans’ enamel — but it wasn’t always this way. Long ago, scientists say in a new study, early humans’ teeth were just as strong as sea otters’ clam-crunching pearly whites. And this finding could be a key to understanding our earliest ancestors’ dietary habits. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, human origins

Once-In-a-Lifetime Experiences Are Both Joyous and Depressing

By Carl Engelking | October 14, 2014 2:13 pm


Skydiving, winning a sexy sports car or scaling Mt. Everest sure sound like extraordinary experiences that would fill us with boundless joy to last a lifetime. But a new study finds that’s not always so: extraordinary experiences can actually generate unhappy feelings as well, because others in your ordinary social group are unable to relate to your stories.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts
MORE ABOUT: psychology

Frozen Poop Pills Can Cure Intestinal Infections

By Carl Engelking | October 13, 2014 4:35 pm
The poop pills (Courtesy: Hohmann Labs)

The poop pills (Courtesy: Hohmann Labs)

The healing powers of poop are now available in pill form — and a new study has found that just two days of the treatment can cure a dangerous infection that kills 14,000 Americans per year.

The pills take the place of fecal transplants, which have gained credibility in recent years as a method of treating Clostridium difficile infection, but which require delivery by enema or a tube down the digestive system. Scientists say the pills, which contain filtered, healthy fecal matter, offer a cheap, convenient and safer way to “make the medicine go down.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

Stem Cell Breakthrough Puts Type 1 Diabetes Cure In Reach

By Carl Engelking | October 10, 2014 1:35 pm


Harvard scientists have announced a breakthrough that could eventually allow millions of diabetics to shed the yoke of daily insulin injections.

It took over 15 years of trial and error, but researcher Douglas Melton and his team have discovered a method to transform human embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells which can then be injected into the pancreas. The discovery has generated a new wave of momentum in the field, with research labs across the country already working to replicate and build upon Melton’s results. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

This Machine Gun Folds and Shoots Paper Airplanes

By Carl Engelking | October 9, 2014 3:54 pm

The art of disrupting social studies class just went high-tech.

A man in Germany has invented the world’s (unofficial) first paper airplane machine gun. This shotgun-sized apparatus is every study hall supervisor’s nightmare. The gun self-folds each sheet of paper and launches the resultant paper airplanes into the air with assembly line efficiency.


(Screenshot from YouTube)

The man’s wordless airplane-shooting demonstration in this video makes sure all the attention is devoted to the beauty of his invention. According to the video’s description, the gun was assembled using 3-D printed parts and is powered by a cordless drill.

If this paper airplane gun ever goes on sale, we preemptively offer our sympathies to the substitute teachers out there.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: gadgets

Bionic Eye Restores Partial Vision to Blind Man

By Carl Engelking | October 9, 2014 3:07 pm
bionic eye duke

Larry Hester and Paul Hahn, MD, prepare for the first test run with the new bionic eye. (Photo Credit: Shawn Rocco at Duke Medicine)

People diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease are seeing a new future thanks to bionic eye technology.

For decades, Larry Hester adjusted to life without vision after retinitis pigmentosa caused the photoreceptor cells in his eyes to gradually die off. But this week, Hester’s sight was partially restored following surgery that transformed his eye into a bionic eye. He’s now the seventh person to undergo this FDA-approved procedure.

Hester received the device in September, but he tested his bionic eye for the first time yesterday — as captured in the video below:

Bionic Vision

The device Hester uses to see is called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis system, which the FDA approved for use in patients with advanced retinitis pigmentosa last year. The disease affects about 100,000 people in the United States, and roughly 10,000 individuals’ vision has deteriorated to a level that makes them eligible for the procedure.

The device uses a camera that’s mounted on a pair of Rec-Spec-like glasses, which feeds visual data to a processor clipped on a belt. The processor converts visual data into a signal that’s wirelessly beamed to electrodes embedded in the eye. The electrodes bypass damaged retinal cells and activate healthy photoreceptor cells in the eye, which finally send visual feedback along the optical nerve and into the brain.

The device isn’t meant to restore 20/20 vision. Rather, wearers can interpret the intensity of light, and see shapes like curbs and crosswalk lines. The operation, including rehabilitation, costs roughly $200,000.

Saving the Senses

The bionic eye is just one of several ways technology is augmenting our senses. In February, scientists announced they had built a prosthetic hand that restored the sense of touch to its wearer. New gadgets are also allowing people to “see” with their ears, hands and tongue through sensory substitution. Gene therapy is also increasing the effectiveness of cochlear implants for the deaf.

Taken together, these efforts are proof that the “bionic human” is no longer a thing of the future. Rather, scientists are now asking, how can we make the bionic person better?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Baby Born From Transplanted Uterus Is World’s First

By Carl Engelking | October 8, 2014 1:07 pm


A uterus transplant isn’t a life-saving procedure like, say, a heart transplant, but now doctors have proven it can certainly be life-giving.

Last week, a 36-year-old woman in Sweden successfully gave birth to a baby boy less than two years after receiving a uterus transplant. It’s the world’s first baby born from a transplanted uterus, an advance which could break down barriers for many couples hoping to start a family.   Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: sex & reproduction

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