Researchers at Harvard University recently coated cardiac muscle cells with a plastic polymer to create an artificial muscle that can contract like a real heart. The marriage between the plastic polymer, polydimethylsiloxane and rat muscle cells stimulates movement that has the potential for many scientific and medical uses.
Imagine a laser hundreds of times more powerful than any laser known to man, an antimatter lattice that can trap even light, or a molecule that holds the secrets to the universe's greatest bias. This may seem strange, but a recent study conducted by David Cassidy and Allen Mills of the University of California Riverside, detailed the creation of dipositronium the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen gas.
Although most people go to hospitals for treatment and relief from illness, many find that their health is at risk from hospital acquired infections. New research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases has shown that infections caused by a common bacterium have increased by over 7 percent every year between 1998 and 2003. In addition, hospital expenditure has increased annually by nearly 12 percent to compensate for these infections.
It is common knowledge that too much sleep kills thousands of people at the wheel of their car every year. Now, scientists have shown that, while lack of sleep doubles the incidence of death from cardiovascular disease, excessive sleep can also increase the risk of death from other causes. According to data presented to the British Sleep Society this month by Francesco Cappuccio, Cephalon Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Warwick, career changes and leisure pastimes have "meant that reports of fatigue, tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness are more common than a few decades ago." Furthermore, "sleep represents the daily process of physiological restitution and recovery, and lack of sleep has far-reaching effects."
Advances in the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's Disease (AD) are giving hope to physicians, patients, and family members for earlier diagnosis and treatment. Researchers led by Dr. Howard Feldman, Head of the Division of Neurology at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Medicine, have developed new guidelines for the diagnosis of AD based primarily on the structure of the brain. AD may now be diagnosed when patients are experiencing only slight to mild degrees of cognitive impairment; an improvement on current guidelines which often delay treatment until severe dementia has already set in.
University of Cambridge researchers recently produced real time footage of the nanoscale interaction that occurs between a restriction enzyme and the DNA of an attacking virus. Using a revolutionary Scanning Atomic Force Microscope in Japan, the research team was able to film the mechanism by which the host restriction enzyme unravels the foreign viral DNA. This research, published online on July 23, 2007 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), demonstrates a new method that can be used to visualize DNA-enzyme interactions in real time. This will help improve understanding of other cellular processes, such as DNA replication and DNA repair.
Apart from the ability to cause fear and sometimes anaphylactic shock in humans, bees can now add elephants to their list of "victims." Researchers from Oxford University recently reported in Current Biology that recordings of angry African bees caused elephants to quickly leave the immediate vicinity. African bees owe their elephant-repellant powers to their ability to sting the interior of the elephants' trunks, resulting in elephants' learned behavior to avoid bees.
One of the most famous examples of inter-species viral transfer is the passing of HIV from primates to humans. Earlier this month, researchers have discovered that bats may potentially infect humans with the Marburg virus, a close relative to the Ebola virus.
Recognizing global warming as a threat to life on Earth, scientists are trying to develop a method to alleviate or reverse its effects. Recently Nature published a letter to the editor that suggested how large vertical pipes can be used to mix the ocean's nutrient-rich deep waters and nutrient deficient surface waters in an effort to sequester the planet's excess of CO2 and to potentially cool the climate.
A case of swords into ploughshares? Perhaps. This week, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard University reported in the cover article of the Journal of Neurophysiology on their progress in the design of algorithms in neural prosthetic devices to restore function in patients who suffer from motor deficits. The central themes graphical models and statistical signal processing have their roots in the flurry of research that followed America's victory in World War II. WWII researchers' discoveries brought together these themes with modern neuroscience to form a cohesive mathematical approach to designing neural prosthetic devices. This new type of technology could one day dramatically improve the quality of life of patients with neurological disease, where current medical and surgical therapies have fallen short.
It's hard to believe that not so long ago, no one knew that cells could be spun finer than silk. However, earlier this month, scientists reported that they have found a new, safer way of spinning nanothreads of living tissue for use in medical procedures. With this technique, they can use the nanothreads to help construct living scaffolds for medical repairs, tissue regeneration, drug delivery system, and many other medical uses.
Most people have experienced vivid recall of memories that relate to significant life events. Now, a paper published in Cell earlier this month has shown that the hormone noradrenaline, released during periods of high emotion, strengthens connections between neurons in the brain. As a result, the brain distinguishes between significant and insignificant events when allocating its memory capacity.
An HIV-suppressing drug may soon be prescribed to cancer patients. Nelfinavir (Viracept, Pfizer), a drug that hinders the HIV virus's ability to infect new cells, also has the ability to reduce the growth of certain cancer cells. This discovery is published recently in Clinical Cancer Research by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
To some they are just ambulance drivers,' but some paramedics in the UK have demonstrated their worth by treating patients without taking them to hospital. According to one study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this month, paramedics can provide an effective alternative to taking patients directly to hospital. The work was led by Dr Suzanne Mason, a reader in emergency medicine at the University of Sheffield, and concluded that paramedics may be trained to provide a viable alternative "to standard ambulance transfer and treatment in an emergency department for elderly patients with acute minor conditions."
Short afternoon naps, or siestas, can reduce the risk of heart diseases, a team of researchers from John Moores University in Liverpool have found. According to Mohammad Zaregarizi and his colleagues, it is the anticipation period before the sleep that benefits our heart. These findings were first published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in July 2007.
In a study published this month in Genome Research, researchers at the University of Illinois documented the evolution of protein structure. Proteins are found in all living organisms and carry out some of the most important biological reactions, so understanding protein structure in an evolutionary context can be very powerful.
On the 4th of this month, astronomers reported that they had found a solar system that has all the makings for a habitable planet to form. Although this planet may not form for millions of years, it is in the right spot for life to form, or even just to support life.
Scientists from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (a NASA satellite) have observed stellar gas falling into black holes producing intense X-rays. Although light cannot escape the gravitational effects of a black hole, when gas succumbs to gravitational forces, intense X-Rays ignite violently before the gas disappears. An assistant professor of Astronomy at University of Michigan, John Miller, who is a part of the NASA research project, explains the observed process: "Just before stellar gas falls into the black hole, it can glow very brightly in X-rays."
In the decades that the space race lasted between Russia and America, one man stood out amongst the Soviet comrades to distinguish himself as the master engineer of the Russian Space Program. Sergei Pavlovich Korolev led a truly amazing life, growing up in the outskirts of Russia to graduate the "MIT of Moscow", only to be thrust into one of Stalin's slave camps to return to assist his country in WWII and finally the Space Race, breaking records the whole way. Sergei Korolev was truly a genius without whom Russia would have been no match for the American Space Program.
JYI's mission is not limited by geographical boundaries. Not only are our readers and staff international, we also publish articles by authors from all over the world. In this issue, we highlight an article from India at the intersection of economics, environment, and policy-making.