Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A saliva test to predict agressive behaviour in boys

A lot of behavioural patterns are hard to discern by simply looking at the biological level, which is why we have invented a field of science called psychology. Linking biology and psychology has proven to be hard because our knowledge of the brain is still lacking. Often exaggerated claims are made regarding the way biological parameters affect things such as behaviour, but then again, it is a discipline that has not yet received the scientific attention it deserves. A novel study by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center raises an eyebrow as it claims to have found a relationship between hormonal components in saliva and the frequency of aggressive behaviour in boys. Could aggressive behaviour be something we can detect and 'treat' before it actually occurs?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scientists claim they can predict disease outbreaks

Ever so often viruses manage to successfully infect human beings and spread throughout the population. In the past, viral outbreaks could lead to high death tolls, the influenza outbreak of 1918 being a famous example with 500 million infections and between 50 and 100 million deaths. Nowadays, viral outbreaks are less pronounced, but we have to remain cautious, as the 'swine flu' and 'bird flu' have taught us. In order to cope with future viral outbreaks, scientists have developed a model that can predict outbreaks before they occur. The method will mainly be used for viral spread in Africa.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Better imaging to improve cancer detection

One of the most important parts of clinical oncology is to find the cancer before it does any real harm to the body. Speedy diagnosis significantly improves the chances for survival, and for that, we need proper imaging tools. At the University of California in San Diego, scientists have found a better way to detect so-called sentinel lymph nodes, which are important in cancer metastasis. A novel, radioactive molecule was shown capable of improving the detection of the spread of a tumour throughout the body, indicating that our ways of cancer detection can be improved, thus promoting survival.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Device keeps donor livers alive for over 24 hours

It is commonly known that there are not enough organs being donated to supply all patients in need of a replacement. Another factor that contributes to scarcity is the fact that it is not always easy to get a harvested organ to the site of transplantation in time. Organs can deteriorate in quality during transit, accounting for a loss of over 2000 livers each year, for example. To counter this, scientists have developed a device that can keep a donor liver alive for over 24 hours, much longer than what is currently possible with existing techniques.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Oxidative stress turns helpful proteins into killers

Oxygen is one of the most important compounds needed in order to facilitate life. It helps us to burn our fuel and turn it into energy that we use for all our bodily functions. There are also forms of oxygen that are a little less beneficial. Some chemical variants of oxygen are not entirely stable and readily react with anything they encounter. We call this reactive oxygen species (ROS) and this forms the center component to oxidative stress. While ROS are used by the immune system to kill invading microbes, oxidative stress can also damage our body. Researchers have now found a mechanism by which oxidative stress kills cells, providing new insights into novel therapeutic options for a wide range of diseases.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The first documented cure of an HIV infected baby

When AIDS was first discovered it was a disease that eventually kills the patient. With new antiviral therapies, AIDS, and the corresponding HIV infection, is now a disease that is manageable. Nevertheless, HIV remains a big problem because the virus cannot be eradicated completely and it is still readily spreading around the globe, especially because it can be transferred from the mother to the unborn child. But now, for the first time, doctors have reported to have cured a baby infected with HIV, an incredible milestone. The patient was a newborn that was 'aggressively' treated with antiviral drugs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A wireless chip to control robot limbs with the mind

Using your thoughts to control robot arms and robot legs are the next big thing currently in development for paraplegics. Proof of concepts have already shown that it is possible to read a person's thoughts and translate that to movement. For example, clinical studies with 'brain chips' show that we can translate thoughts to movement of robot arms, or robot legs, and even the fine movements of the finger can be simulated. Downside is that people have to be hooked up to computers in order to derive one's thoughts from the brain, but scientists have now created a chip that transmits brain activity wirelessly, which means thoughts can be read with no strings attached.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thoughts electrically transferred between brains

Organ transplantations are nothing new nowadays, as hospitals are readily replacing various organs, including lungs, heart, kidneys and others. There is one organ that remains elusive, and that is the brain. It is obviously impossible to put the brain of one person in another body and make it work. It is also unclear what would happen: is it possible to transfer a personality from one body to another? While brain transplants remain impossible, several interesting studies revealed it is possible to partially replace brain tissue. Scientists from the Duke University School of Medicine have now found a way to transfer thoughts, in the form of behavioural patterns, from one rat to another by means of electrical stimulation.