June 21, 2017

Roundup of latest med research and tech: Pond-scum, science of diarrhea, real tans without sun, health-monitoring tattoos and more

How oxygen-producing pond scum could save your life after a heart attack

That’s because thee lowly bacteria in pond scum are capable of producing something a stricken heart desperately needs --- oxygen.  In fact, when Stanford scientists injected massive doses of cyanobacteria into the hearts of rats who suffered the equivalent of a “widow-maker” heart attack, oxygen levels ballooned by a factor of 25.

The results, published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest a truly original approach to reducing the damage done to heart muscle when it is suddenly deprived of oxygen.....Woo sees the new research as a “proof of principle” that photosynthesis, in some form, might someday be used as a bridge treatment for patients who have had blood flow cut off to any organ.

New study finds that diarrhea serves a purpose and flushes the body of certain infections

The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), looked at the immune mechanisms that drive diarrhea.  They conducted a study in mice to find out if diarrhea serves a purpose by  infecting mice with the human equivalent of E.coli and analyzing their stools.  They found the infected mice produced proteins that caused tiny leaks in their intestinal wall which allowed more water to enter the intestines, making the mouse poop looser and limiting disease severity.

MIT Has Developed Color-Changing Tattoo Ink That Monitors Your Health in Real Time

Using a liquid with biosensors instead of traditional ink, scientists want to turn the surface of the human skin into an "interactive display, say for diabetics.  "The Dermal Abyss creates a direct access to the compartments in the body and reflects inner metabolic processes in a shape of a tattoo," the team writes on the project website

Scientists Have Discovered a Chemical That Causes Any Skin Type to Tan

It's the complete package: a chemical that can trigger the release of dark pigment in any type of skin tone - even in redheads - while also boosting the body's natural defenses against skin cancer.The new compound, which would work in conjunction with sunscreen, offers a temporary boost in melanin production - the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. If it proves effective in human trials, it could see the end of bad fake tans, and give fair-skinned people better protection when out in the elements.

"It would not actually be a fake tan, it would be the real thing," one of the team, David Fisher from the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, told The Guardian. "It would just be sunless."

New discovery could get everyone a tan without the sun damage

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a compound that can darken the skin without the sun’s damaging UV rays, according to a new study published in Cell Reports. “Our real goal is a novel strategy for protecting skin from UV radiation and cancer,” David Fisher, lead author of the study, told the BBC. “Dark pigment is associated with a lower risk of all forms of skin cancer – that would be really huge.”

The study notes that more safety testing is needed, especially when it comes to the MITF gene, which regulates skin pigment and could possibly cause cancer on its own if it’s messed around with. Fisher told Smithsonian magazine that it could be another three to five years before the product is close to hitting shelves. .... Fisher stressed that whatever form the eventual product takes, it wouldn’t be a replacement for sunscreen, merely an extra layer of protection.

The one drop flu blood test that could save your life 

The patented test, called The High-risk Influenza Screen Test (HIST), requires a drop of blood and a few hours to predict, with 91 per cent accuracy, which influenza patients are most as risk of deadly secondary infections such as pneumonia. The test was developed by Dr Bejamin Tang and his team, based at Australia's Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and runs on equipment available in most pathology laboratories.

'By using the High-risk Influenza Screen Test we're eavesdropping on the immune system to pick up when the body first mounts a defense against a serious, life-threatening, infection....'The early warning means we have a greater chance to treat the patient's infection before it overwhelms them and potentially kills them.'

A new drug that 'switches off' food cravings is on the horizon

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University used a tiny periscope to access part of brain not accessed before which allowed them to gain deeper understanding of how we react to food cues.

Certain hunger-promoting neurons can be artificially turned on even when full.  If these same neurons can be turned off to reduce food cravings, it could help obese people with a 'faulty' hard wiring that causes overeating.
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 21, 2017 11:50 AM | Permalink