Posts tagged science

It only took 35 years for flesh-eating bacteria to become an infectious terror

All it took for flesh-eating bacteria to go from harmless organisms to gruesome infectious pathogens was four mutations and about 35 years. That’s what an international group of researchers announced today in a study that outside experts are calling the largest bacterial genome paper ever published.

'Heart sock' could replace future implantable defibrillators

Implantable defibrillators and pacemakers have been around since the 1970s, but advances in materials science and 3-D visualization are transforming them from cumbersome life-support tools into streamlined therapies that could be props from Iron Man.

Smart skin patch knows when you need your meds

Researchers from South Korea have laid the groundwork for a dermal patch that not only dispenses medication continuously, but also knows when to stop.

A two-inch long patch made of stretchable nano-material, it can monitor muscle activity and body temperature. Current practical applications for the patch include drug delivery in patients with Parkinson’s disease, where muscle contractions and tremors can trigger medication release.

The researchers hope that in the future, more functions like wireless connectivity for remote monitoring can be achieved as the technology matures. The researchers estimate that the patch will not be ready for consumer use for another five years.

Is herd immunity a thing? Can vaccinated people get sick? — Asked by Anonymous

Herd immunity exists and it is well documented. In fact, there is a brilliant animation created by the Harvard Medical School that explains this process.

Vaccinations help prime your body to fight off a specific infection. However, it usually takes a few weeks for your body to create a reserve of immune cells for when you next encounter the infection again. Therefore, if you were infected just before or after receiving the vaccine, you might still get sick because the vaccine did not have ample time to provide any protection.

A summary of how vaccines work is available through the CDC.

Spray-On Polymer Mats Seal Surgical Incisions

Researchers from the University of Maryland have developed a spray on bio-degradable polymer that can be used to hold surgical incisions closed, sealing and protecting them from the environment.

The film has been tested on pigs for various operations and dissolve away over a 42-day period. Clinical trials and methodology planning are in the works.

Cancer patient's leg kept alive by being attached to arm

Surgeons removed a man’s tumour and rebuilt his body using leg muscles and tissue they had removed and attached to his arm to keep alive.

"It’s not easy for a surgeon to tell a patient that they haven’t done this particular procedure before."

After 120 Years, Doctors Develop New Brain Surgery Technique

A team of surgeons from Johns Hopkins recently came up with a safer, better method of replacing skull fragments after brain surgery. This is good news for anybody who might need a little work done on their noggin in the near future, as doctors have been using the same method since the 1890s.

Novice Neurosurgeons Train On Brains Printed In 3-D // NPR

There’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to brain surgery.

But it’s hard for beginner neurosurgeons to get real hands-on experience. Most residents learn by watching and assisting experienced surgeons.

Newbies can practice on cadavers or use simulators, of course. But neither of those alternatives is quite the same as operating on a real, live patient, for better and for worse.

That’s why 3-D printers might help the doctors do a better job. At the University of Malaya in Malaysia, neurosurgeons are using 3-D printers to make realistic skulls and brains that residents can use to hone their skills.

The models combine different materials to mimic the feel of human bone, membrane and tissue. Each practice patient is made to order from the scans of an actual patient, so students can try the same procedures they see senior surgeons perform.

Dr. Vicknes Waran, one of the neurosurgeons working on the project, says he prefers these 3-D models over cadavers for teaching.

"In some parts of the world, it’s difficult to get cadavers," Waran tells Shots. Plus it’s hard to find a cadaver with the types of tumors and illnesses that the residents are being trained to treat. The best part, Waran says, is that students can practice on the models as many times as they need to in order to completely master a technique.

Continue Reading…

Pandemic.

Theoretical physicist Dirk Brockmann and his team have created a simulation for a pandemic with similar characteristics as the 2009 swine flu. The crux of any pandemic is the rate of transmission. In today’s globalized world, the potential of swift and rapid transmission has never been greater.

In this video, the team simulates an index case in Atlanta before making its way around the globe.

Read more here…

The Royal Institution's Advent Calendar: Explore the Human Genome

Geneticist Aoife Mclysaght introduces the Ri advent calendar 2013, a video journey through the human genome. Starting with the largest human chromosome - chromosome 1 - Aoife explores how genes are organised and how genetic information is passed from one generation to the next.