Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cell Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

The brain and cervical spinal cord - FC3882
A 40 year old Polish man, who was paralyzed from the chest down in 2010, has regained his ability to walk after a team of Polish surgeons and British scientists transplanted sensory nerve cells into his injured spinal cord.  The treatment involves regenerative olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC's) found on olfactory bulbs, the sensory nerves responsible for our sense of smell.  Surgeons grew OEC's in a cell culture after removing one of the patient's olfactory bulbs, and grafted thin strips of nervous tissue harvested from his ankle to bridge a gap in the injured spinal cord.  The OEC's were injected into the spine, stimulating a pathway for spinal cord cells to regenerate along the harvested nerve grafts.

Six months after the treatment, the patient's legs had regained enough muscle and sensation for him to take his first steps using supportive rails and leg braces.  After two years of intensive physical rehabilitation, he can now walk on his own and has recovered some bladder and bowel sensation, as well as sexual function.  Since the transplant involved the patient's own cells, researchers note that there is no risk of rejection or need for immunosuppressive drugs, as seen in other transplant surgeries.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

American Life Expectancy Increases

Health in old age - SQ3597
A report from the National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) on mortality rates in the U.S. showed that in 2012, life expectancy for Americans over 65 continued to increase.  It's estimated that men over 65 could live an additional 17.9 years, while women over 65 could expect to live up to 20.5 years longer.  In 1960, the average life expectancy of Americans over 65 was only 14.4 years.  Researchers note that differences in life expectancy related to race or ethnicity are also narrowing.

Fewer deaths from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and pneumonia, were all seen to decrease in 2012 compared to 2011.  As more patients learn to manage their disabilities or chronic illnesses more effectively, advances in medical technology and better treatment options may attribute to the increased longevity.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Your Genes Influence Academic Achievement

Genetic individuality, male Head with DNA - RC8897
In the past, scientists have identified certain genes which can influence a person's IQ.  However a higher IQ doesn't guarantee better grades and tests scores in school, which relies on a combination of preparedness, confidence, motivation, and a myriad of other traits that contribute to intelligence.  Researchers from King's College London analyzed the personalities and academic success of more than 11,000 twins, surveying overall happiness to how much they liked school or how hard they worked.

The study found that certain hereditary traits seen in identical twins affecting personality, correlated with higher standardized test scores.  Educators hope that understanding the influence genetics plays on not only intelligence, but a child's motivation to learn, would stress the importance of personalized classrooms where students can become more engaged.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

First U.S. Case of Ebola Diagnosed in Texas

Ebola Virus, TEM - BY2124
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an airline passenger who arrived in Dallas from Liberia on September 20, has been diagnosed with Ebola.  He did not present any symptoms while boarding the flight because the full incubation period for the disease after exposure is around 21 days.  Since the virus can only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids after symptoms develop, no other passengers on the flight would have been infected at the time.  However, the CDC is tracking down and monitoring family and friends who may have been in close contact with the patient when he became ill. 

As the outbreak of Ebola unfolded in West Africa, officials assumed the virus would inevitably make its way to American soil.  As a result, U.S. hospitals were already well prepared to safely handle cases that require isolation protocols for treating infectious diseases.  The virus is responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people in Africa, with no proven vaccine or cure.  Two U.S. aid workers recovered after receiving an experimental vaccine, but current treatment mainly involves supportive care until the patient recovers on their own.

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The Last Passenger Pigeon

The Last Passenger Pigeon 8X2813
"This September marks a melancholy anniversary: the first of the month is the centennial of the death of Martha the pigeon in Cincinnati zoo and, with her passing, the extinction of the passenger pigeon. It was an extinction that 100 years earlier would have been inconceivable." - Adrian Barnett, Beautiful but doomed: Demise of the passenger pigeon, the New Scientist, September 2, 2014


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Athletes May Be At Greater Risk Of Dental Problems

Exercise - BC7130
A study conducted by The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that intense exercise and endurance training may put athletes at greater risk of developing cavities and other dental problems.  A previous study found that many athletes suffered from poor oral health, including higher levels of tooth decay, gum disease, and the erosion of tooth enamel (the hard, outer surface of a tooth).  Researchers assumed that poor oral hygiene or consuming sugary sports drinks and energy bars was affecting their oral health.  However, this most recent study indicates that the chemical composition of an athlete's saliva changes during exercise, which may be influencing dental decay.

Saliva plays an important role in not only digestion, but washing away bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.  You may produce less saliva during an intense workout, but researchers also found that athlete's saliva became more alkaline the longer they exercised, which can contribute to the development of tartar and plaque.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

State of the Stock Image Licensing Industry

#ScienceSourceNews
In The News:
by Robert Henson
Tall Firs Media: Perspectives on the Photo Tech Industry 
September 18, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

World War One Innovation in Injury Treatment

WW1, American Red Cross and Wounded Soldiers
BZ5138
"World War One was fought on a scale that had never been experienced before.
At the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the main infantry weapon was the muzzle-loading musket, which fired up to four shots a minute. At the Battle of the Somme, just over a century later, machine gunners could fire off 600 rounds a minute. High velocity rounds wreaked havoc in the body, twisting tissue and splintering bone. Fighting on farmland fertilised by manure meant that wounds quickly became infected; gangrene was rife.
Faced with this challenge, new equipment and techniques were invented that, across four years of fighting, would end up saving thousands of lives." - How did WW1 change the way we treat war injuries today? Presented by Dr. Saleyha Ahsan, BBC

Predator-Prey Balance Affected by Climate Change

Ladybug Taking Off BY7123
"Rising temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns may get the lion’s share of our climate change attention, but predators may want to give some thought to wind, according to a zoologist’s study, which is among the first to demonstrate the way “global stilling” may alter predator-prey relationships." - University of Wisconsin-Madison, Climate change: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance, Science Daily, September 19, 2014 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Researchers Developing an Artificial Spleen

Healthy spleen, artwork - RC7446
Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created a device that can filter toxins and pathogens out of the blood, in hopes of preventing the body's fatal immune response to blood infections known as sepsis.  The device, inspired by the spleen's ability to clean the blood, uses magnetic nanobeads coated with a protein found in humans known as MBL.  The MBL protein binds to the surface of different bacteria, viruses, and toxins, while a magnet in the device pulls the protein coated beads and pathogens out of blood filtered through the machine.

When the device was tested on rats infected with E. coli or Staphylococcus aureus, the device improved survival rates and removed more than 90% of the bacteria from the rats' blood.  Researchers hope that by removing the majority of pathogens from a patient's blood, the body's immune system can easily fight off the remaining infection without resorting to the overuse of antibiotics.

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