Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Bill Gates believes that personalized medicine is the future.  To the point where we may all have personalized cancer vaccines.  But in some ways the future of personalized healthcare is already here.  At least when it comes to personalized vitamins.

As Futurism puts it, “A daily vitamin regimen is often used to help bolster health, especially for those with diets that aren’t 100-percent up to a nutritionist’s recommendations (which is pretty much everyone). There are a ton of vitamin supplements and customized regimens out there. But only one is custom-tailored based on not just your lifestyle and diet, but on the results of a DNA test. It’s called Rootine, and for just $2.00 a day, it gives you the daily vitamins you truly need, without any of the empty filler you’re likely to get from other ‘one size fits all’ vitamin products.”

As someone with dietary restrictions and poor eating habits, it’s essential that I take vitamins to make up the difference.  The only problem is that I’m still taking Flintstone vitamins and likely not getting everything that I need into my system.  A highly personalized regimen could change all that and remove all the guess work along the way.  But how exactly would it work?

According to Futurism:

“Here’s what makes Rootine different from other vitamin products: individuality. You start by taking a quick intake quiz about your lifestyle and habits. Next, you take a DNA test (or send your existing DNA data), which will allow Rootine to create a special formulation of vitamins specifically tailored to your own genetic profile. As a result, you get everything you need to keep your body as healthy as possible, without unnecessary, or in some cases detrimental, vitamins you don’t. And once you start the process, you’ll also have the option to send in regular blood work so your vitamin regimen can be further tweaked and adjusted according to how well it’s working.”

That all sounds amazing.  I just have one last question though.  Will these vitamins come in chewable format? Preferably as gummies shaped like dinosaurs?

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Is Rootine the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The other day I wrote about molecular coffee, java made without the use of any coffee beans.  A feat accomplished by reverse engineering how coffee tastes to come up with an alternative that winds up tasting exactly the same albeit with different ingredients.

Similarly, we may one day have molecular surgery, non-invasive procedures that don’t involve any incisions, cutting, or scarring, with the desired results being achieved via a process that reshapes tissue to make it more malleable.

According to Science Focus:

“So far, the researchers have focused on cartilage – a tough connective tissue that’s found throughout the body. By passing electric current through the cartilage, the scientists found that they could make it flexible, while avoiding damage to the tissue.

The technique works by ‘electrolyzing’ the water inside the cartilage – splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gases. The creation of charged hydrogen atoms (protons) alters the electric charge inside the cartilage in such a way that the tissue becomes malleable.”

This is an incredible breakthrough even if it does only effect a small portion of surgical procedures such as those of a cosmetic variety as it goes to show that brute force hacks aren’t always the best means of healthcare.  Perhaps in due time we’ll find out that there are even more outside the box type solutions that could help the human body heal without the need for undergoing expensive and risky surgeries.

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Is Molecular Surgery the Greatest Idea Ever?

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How we came to eat the things that we do in the way that we do has likely been the byproduct of thousands of years of trial and error.  Before we figured out that you could pair milk with cereal someone had to try cereal mixed with apple or orange juice.  Yuck!  Or just imagine walking down the beach trying everything you could find, seaweed, clams, jellyfish, etc. to figure out what was edible and what wasn’t.  I’m a picky eater as it is.  Being an ancient taste tester would not have been for me.  Thankfully, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.  Going forward new food combinations will be concocted, not by human chefs, but by an advanced artificial intelligence, IBM’s Watson.

After winning Jeopardy, Watson turned its attention to healthcare, working with hospitals to diagnose rare diseases, thanks to its astonishing ability to read one million books per second.  At the time I wondered what Watson would turn to next for an encore and now we know.  Watson in a partnership with McCormick & Company will turn its attention to creating food recipes.  Rare, never before created recipes that no human could have ever come up with due to their complexity and chefs natural predisposition to certain favored ways of doing things.

As Futurism puts it, “Each human developer comes with biases. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; they may simply have favorite or go-to ingredientslike particular spices, that are over-represented in their formulas. But because IBM’s AI, largely comprised of a massive neural network, is trained on decades of McCormick data, the system is able to consider alternatives outside of a particular expert’s wheelhouse.

The algorithm also absorbed contextual data from decades of market research — the neural net processed data on people’s preferences based on factors like their culture, location, and moods.”

The end result is a system that is capable of considering food combinations that have never been tried before giving hope that we could be on the verge of revolutionizing the food industry.  Imagine for instance if something as amazing as pizza was only just now getting discovered.  How much would a discovery of that magnitude change the world?  Which begs the question: what new foods will be discovered next?!

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Is a new food algorithm the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,454 – MuTaTo

It’s the holy grail of modern science.  A cure for cancer.  For all cancers.  In one fell swoop.  And it may soon be possible thanks to an incredible breakthrough from an Israeli pharmaceutical company known as AEBi.

Futurism explains:

“According to The Jerusalem Post, “AEBi’s cancer cure is called MuTaTo, which stands for ‘multi-target toxin.’ It attacks cancer cells with several peptides — compounds comprising chains of amino acids — at once, and this multi-pronged attack is key to the treatment’s efficacy, the company says.”

Adds CEO Ilan Morad:

“’Instead of attacking receptors one at a time, we attack receptors three at a time,’ he continued. ‘Not even cancer can mutate three receptors at the same time.’”

And best of all, according to Forbes, “it will be brief, cheap and effective and will have no or minimal side-effects.”

It almost sounds too good to be true.  And it may very well be.  After all, these claims are coming directly from the company, haven’t been peer reviewed yet, and clinical trials haven’t taken place yet.  So we should temper our enthusiasm.  But then again we are talking about a cure for all cancers.  If they are even remotely on the right path then this is news worth celebrating.

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Is a cure for cancer the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,450 – Drug Sponge

Chemotherapy may save lives but it’s also a horrendous brute force hack that often causes significant damage in its own right.  In short, it’s pretty awful.  Fortunately, there may soon be a way to lessen its impact thanks to a newly designed drug sponge.

As Futurism puts it, “most of the drugs used for chemotherapy are poisonous. That allows them to effectively kill cancer cells, but it also wreaks havoc on the rest of a patient’s body, causing side effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to hair loss and ulcers.

Now, researchers from several U.S. universities have developed a tiny sponge that sits in a patient’s vein during chemotherapy to absorb excess drugs, thereby minimizing side effects…”

Hopefully, this drug sponge can clear regulatory hurdles quickly and start helping cancer patients in short order.

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Is a drug sponge the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,448 – A Cure for Loneliness

I like to say that I never get lonely.  After all, I’m surrounded by people all day.  How could I possibly be lonely?  Even when I’m hiking “alone” I’m still around other people.  Turn on the TV or pop open my computer and they are again, even more people.  So how can I ever be alone if I’m always around someone.  But we all know that’s not how loneliness works.  You could be in a committed relationship with someone and still feel lonely, still feel like you’re lacking an actual connection to someone.  A phenomenon that dates back thousands of years.

As Laura Entis writes on Medium:

“Loneliness is part of the human condition. A primeval warning sign, like hunger or thirst, to seek out a primary resource: connection. Millions of years of evolution have shaped us into creatures who need social bonds in the same way that we need food and water.

And yet we increasingly find ourselves isolated. Loneliness is no longer a powerful enough driver to break us out of the silos created by modern life. Like our insatiable love of high-calorie foods, what was once an adaptive tool has become so misaligned with the way we live that it’s causing, in the words of former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy, an ‘epidemic.’”

So what can we do about it?  Just mope around and hope others feel sorry for us?  Or is there something else we can to treat our affliction?  Something more proactive?  Well, as it turns out we may one day have a pill that we could take.  A cure for loneliness.  Which is a good thing.  Because loneliness is absolutely horrible.

As Entis puts it, “The trouble is that chronic loneliness doesn’t just make you feel terrible—it’s also terrible for you. Loneliness elevates our risk of developing a range of disorders, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive decline, and metastatic cancer. It also weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to infections. Left untended, even situational loneliness can ossify into a fixed state that changes brain structures and processes, says Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Lab at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.”

Well that’s depressing.  As someone who prefers to be alone most of the time I suddenly find myself rethinking my life choices.  I also find myself re-thinking how I view others.  If loneliness really is that serious then I need to step up my game and go out of my way to befriend more people, especially if I see someone who appears lonely.  For I wouldn’t just be doing them a solid, I’d be saving their life.  Either way, it’s great that there may one day be a way to treat loneliness.  And we may be able to do so with a simple pill.

According to Entis, “It’s less science fiction than it sounds. A number of clinical trials — led by Stephanie and others — are already underway, targeting the ways in which chronic loneliness changes the brain, as well as the havoc it unleashes on the nervous system. If there are pharmacological treatments for other social pains like depression and anxiety, why not loneliness?”

Why not, indeed.

So hopefully, research into this area continues and such a pill does in fact one day materialize on pharmacy shelves.  Until then I’ll try to do my best to cure this affliction the old fashioned way.  By actually talking to people.

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Is a cure for loneliness the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Do you have an over-active bladder that is constantly causing you to urinate at all hours of the night?  Well, then I’ve got some good news for you! A new wireless implant that could use optogenetics (controlling genes with light) to limit how often you have to go.

As Futurism puts it, “An many as 33 million people in the United States may have overactive bladders. One common treatment methodinvolves stimulating the bladder nerves using implants, but these can often shock more than just bladder nerves and some require frequent doctors’ visits or an external battery pack.

The new device offers an improvement over these methods, as it charges wirelessly without the need for external batteries. Light emitted from the device also stimulates only nerve cells located in the bladder and only when needed.

Controlling the bladder nerves with light requires an injection of a harmless virus which produces a light-activated protein called archaerhodopsin 3.0, or Arch. A sensor wrapped around the bladder tracks how many times users urinate. If it’s more than three times an hour the LED on the implant activates. The green light stimulates the Arch protein in the bladder nerve cells and prevents them from sending so many ‘full bladder’ signals.”

Previously I was under the impression that optogenetics could only be used in the brain to control certain functionality but that is clearly not the case.  Instead, as we see with the bladder control implant, it can also be used throughout the body with spectacular results.  Which begs the question: what else can it be used for?!

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Is using optogenetics for bladder control the Greatest Idea Ever?

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