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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Play outside in the snow for too long and catch a cold.  Go from air-conditioned apartment to outside heat to air-conditioned car to outside heat to air-conditioned apartment and catch a cold.  Travel often and catch a cold.  Hang around those human cesspools known as kids and catch a cold.

No matter who you are or what you’re doing you’re likely going to get a cold and be down and out for several days with no recourse.  All you can do is treat the symptoms.  There’s no cure for the cause of your suffering.  Until now that is.  That’s right.  Scientists may have finally figured out a way to invent a cure for the common cold!

As Futurism explains, “When a cold virus enters the body, it commandeers a human protein cell called N-myristoyltransferase (NMT). The virus uses this protein to construct a capsid, a shell that protects the virus so it can replicate.  The ICL team developed a molecule, IMP-1088, that completely blocked several strains of rhinovirus, the primary cause of the common cold, from reaching the NMT protein.”

Since the virus can’t reach the protein it can’t use it to make its shell and thus it can’t survive long enough to replicate.  Now, this isn’t the first time this approach has been attempted.  It is, however, the first time that the treatment didn’t have any negative side effects.  Paving the way for animal and then human trials.  So, hopefully it won’t be too long before a viable drug is on the market.

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Is a cure for the common cold the Greatest Idea Ever?

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This next idea is a real doozy.  Mind-blowing would be an apt description.  Especially since it involves literally blowing up your mind.  Or at least editing it.  That’s right.  Scientists at the University of California Berkley are actually working on a hologram projecting device that would enable them to manipulate thousands of the brain’s neurons at once allowing for the mind to be hacked and memories replaced or added at will.

So how does this scary, yet amazing, brain-editing technology work?!

As The Next Web describes:

“The researchers successfully activated and deactivated specific groups of neurons in the brains of mice by projecting holograms directly onto them through a ‘window’ in the animals’ heads. This method allows the team to manipulate precise neuron groups, hundreds of times per second, in an imitation of the brain’s natural response to stimulus.  This research indicates the potential exists for complete ‘editing’ of the brain. The scientists hope to decode the brain’s ‘language’ and learn to replicate it – a breakthrough which could give us god-like control over our thoughts, memories, senses, and feelings.”

This technology would obviously be a huge boon for those suffering from PTSD or anyone else in need of replacing painful memories with more positive ones.  Such as someone suffering from chronic pain.  The technology could potentially also be used to help amputees control their prosthetic limbs in a more natural way.  However, there are obvious commercial implications as well.  As people may one day look to trick their brains into responding to artificial stimuli Total Recall style.

So what do you think?  Would you want to “edit” your brain in the future?  To get rid of traumatic memories?  Or to trick your mind into thinking you’ve done things that you’ve never done before?  Or would you prefer a more natural life experience, for better or for worse?

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Is a brain editing device the Greatest Idea Ever?

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It’s enough of a struggle trying to find true love without having one hand tied behind your back. And yet that’s the reality facing millions of men around the world who have to contend with the onslaught of male pattern baldness.  Sure plenty of men who are either bald or going bald still find love.  Some women don’t care about looks.  And some men even embrace their new looks, going full Michael Jordan.  But for others, dealing with losing one’s hair is just yet another setback in the on-going pursuit of happiness.  Luckily, men in the future won’t have to worry about baldness at all.  Thanks to yet another accidental discovery.

According to Time, “Researchers may have discovered a new cure for baldness using a drug initially intended to treat osteoporosis.  Scientists from the University of Manchester say the drug,WAY-316606, stimulated hair growth in the lab by targeting a protein that halts hair growth and contributes to baldness, BBC reports.

They were originally testing Cyclosporine A, an immunosuppressive drug that has been used since the 1980s to stop rejections in organ transplants and mitigate symptoms of autoimmune diseases.  While it was found to suppress hair loss, Cyclosporine A had side-effects that made it unsuitable. So the team went on looking for a drug with similar attributes; they found it in WAY-316606.”

Hopefully, the promising research will continue and a commercial product will hit the market.  And hopefully, sooner rather than later.  At least for my sake.

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Is a cure for baldness the Greatest Idea Ever?

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It’s finally happening!!! One of my long standing ideas to be able to measure exactly how much pain a person is in is finally on the verge of happening thanks to Australian researchers!!!!

According to New Atlas, “The research team found that there are identifiable molecular changes in immune cells when a person is suffering from chronic pain. Using hyperspectral imaging analysis these pain biomarkers can be instantly identified, meaning a clinician could determine a patient’s pain tolerance or sensitivity and immediately adjust the dosage of a painkilling medication.”

But that’s not all.

“As well as offering a new biomarker for the presence of pain, Hutchinson’s research suggests that these immune cells actually play a significant role in modulating the sensation of chronic pain. This means that instead of concentrating on developing pain-killing drugs that simply target the nervous system, new drugs may be investigated that suppress this immune pain response.”

As someone who suffers from chronic back pain that nobody else believes exists this is great news.  I’ll finally be able to find out once and for all exactly how much pain I’m in and be able to do something about it. Thanks mates!

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Is figuring out how to measure chronic pain the Greatest Idea Ever?

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With Marvel’s Infinity War currently blowing up at the Box Office, now is as good of a time as any to ask if you could have any superpower, what would it be?!? If you answered having the ability to shoot lasers out of your eyes, you’re in luck.  That’s now a real thing.

According to Engadget, “It will still be a while before scientists are able to harness Superman-like laser vision, but the technology is now closer than ever before thanks to a new development from the University of St Andrews. The team there have created an ultra-thin membrane laser using organic semiconductors, which is for the first time compatible with the requirements for safe operation in the human eye. Even though the membrane is super thin and flexible, it’s durable, and will retain its optical properties even after several months spent attached to another object, such as a bank note or, more excitingly, a contact lens.  The ocular laser, which has so far been tested on cow eyes, is able to identify sharp lines on a flat background — the ones and zeros of a digital barcode — and could be harnessed for new applications in security, biophotonics and photomedicine.”

What kind of applications are we talking about exactly?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps we could unlock a door just by looking at it or maybe a blind person could use this technology to scan objects in order to learn about them. Either way it would seem like we would need to have an interface in place that could process what the lasers in our eyes are scanning.  Making it ideal technology to pair with a neural implant that would let us connect directly to the Internet through our minds.

Such a pairing would be decades away though.  For now it’s just cool to say that we can shoot lasers out of our eyes.

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Is having the ability to shoot lasers out of our eyes the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The CRISPR-CAS-9 gene editing technique is one of the most revolutionary technologies out there.  We already knew about its potential to cure diseases but as time goes on more and more uses are being discovered for it.  Such as its ability to also genetically modify food crops.  And now it’s ability to be used as a diagnostic tool.

As The Verge puts it, “A new biotech company co-founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna [Mammoth Biosciences] is developing a device that uses CRISPR to detect all kinds of diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and Zika. The tech is still just in prototype phase, but research in the field is showing promising results. These CRISPR-based diagnostic tools have the potential to revolutionize how we test for diseases in the hospital, or even at home.”

But, wait.  There’s more!

“The same technology could be used in agriculture, to determine what’s making animals sick or what sorts of microbes are found in soil, or even in the oil and gas industry, to detect corrosive microbes in pipelines…”

Proving that once again, CRISPR is full of surprises.

So how exactly dose this amazing new technology work?

According to Futurism:

“ The user first places a sample on the kit’s credit-card-sized piece of paper. This sample could be urine, blood, or saliva (which one will likely depend on what is needed for the particular test). Then, a CRISPR protein and its RNA guide search that sample for specific sequences of DNA or RNA. These sequences could be indicative for diseases such as malaria and Zika; a single test could look for multiple diseases.

If one of those sequences turns up, the CRISPR system snips it. It also snips what Mammoth calls a ‘reporter molecule,’ which produces a color that’s visible to the naked eye. Take a photo of your piece of paper, and the smartphone app will tell you what CRISPR turned up in your sample.”

It really is that easy.  Perhaps eventually we’d even get to the point where we don’t have to go to the doctor at all.  CRISPR to the rescue once again.

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Is an at-home CRISPR kit the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this past week:

Transition Contacts

Rejoice contact wearers.  You too can now have the ability to adjust to changes in lighting, just like glasses wearers.  Thanks to this breakthrough going out into the sun will no longer seem like a chore.

According to CNET, “The Food and Drug Administration last week approved photochromic soft contact lenses that automatically darken when exposed to bright lights. Johnson & Johnson says its Acuvue OasysContact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology can be worn daily for up to 14 days.”

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Grasshopper

Have you ever wanted to learn how to code?  Well, now you can, in a fun and clever way, thanks to Google.

According to Engadget, “The app has a few legs up on other coding software. Not only is it free on the Google Play store, but it works in puzzles to make learning fun — and it has users learn JavaScript, a leading language used in many of the websites folks visit everyday. It’s already hit over 100,000 installs in the three days it’s been online, and most of the 1600 reviews are positive, so it seems like a great introduction.”

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Graphene Breakthrough 

Graphene, the wonder material that’s 200x stronger than steel, yet a million times thinner than a piece of paper, just received a significant upgrade that could finally help it replace silicon as a building block in the computer of the future.

As Extreme Tech puts it, “There are, broadly speaking, two major problems with graphene. The first problem is the difficulty in producing it at scale. The second is its electrical conductivity. The latter might seem like an odd problem, given that graphene’s phenomenal electrical properties are the reason semiconductor manufacturers are interested in it in the first place. But graphene’s unique capabilities also make it difficult to stop the material from conducting electricity. Silicon has a band gap — an energy range where it doesn’t conduct electricity. Graphene, in its pure form, does not. While a handful of methods of producing a band gap in graphene have been found, none of them have been suitable for mass production. That may finally change, thanks to a team from the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), who have found a way to create a graphene bandgap that’s identical to silicon’s.”

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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