January 19, 2018

Week In STEM-5 Sept

New ‘Tissue Velcro’ could help repair damaged hearts

Engineers have just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together just like Velcro.

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Brazilian Wasp Venom Kills Cancer Cells, But Not Healthy Cells

Wasps get their fair share of bad press. They have painful stingers, and they’re not as useful (or cute) to us as bees. However, their time to step in the spotlight may be just around the corner: Their venom has been shown to attack cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.

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Midday naps associated with reduced blood pressure

The purpose of this prospective study was to assess the effect of midday sleep on blood pressure (BP) levels in hypertensive patients. The study included 386 middle aged patients (200 men and 186 women, average age 61.4 years) with arterial hypertension. After adjusting for other factors that could influence BP such as age, gender, BMI, smoking status, salt, alcohol, exercise and coffee, the researchers found that midday sleepers had 5% lower average 24 hour ambulatory systolic BP (6 mmHg) compared to patients who did not sleep at all midday.

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Terminator-style ‘skin’ quickly repairs itself after a gunshot

Developed by Timothy Scott from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his team, the self-healing “skin” contains a reactive liquid sandwiched between two polymer sheets. When punctured, a chemical called tributylborane in the liquid reacts with oxygen to make it harden, sealing the hole within seconds.

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Oliver Sacks, Neurologist Who Wrote About the Brain’s Quirks, Dies at 82

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and acclaimed author who explored some of the brain’s strangest pathways in best-selling case histories like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” using his patients’ disorders as starting points for eloquent meditations on consciousness and the human condition, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82.

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Neuron responsible for alcoholism found

Scientists have pinpointed a population of neurons in the brain that influences whether one drink leads to two, which could ultimately lead to a cure for alcoholism and other addictions. A study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, finds that consumption alters the structure and function of neurons in the dorsomedial striatum, a part of the brain known to be important in goal-driven behaviors. The findings could be an important step toward creation of a drug to combat alcoholism.

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Do You Want Slower Melting Ice Cream?

Childhood memories of sticky hands from melting ice cream cones could soon become obsolete, thanks to a new food ingredient. Scientists have discovered a naturally occurring protein that can be used to create ice cream that is more resistant to melting than conventional products. The protein binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency.

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3-D Printed Human Tissue

Researchers have developed a technique to build tiny models of human tissues using a process that turns human cells into a biological equivalent of LEGO bricks. These mini-tissues in a dish can be used to study how particular structural features of tissue affect normal growth or go awry in cancer.

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Completely paralyzed man voluntarily moves his legs

A 39-year-old man who had had been completely paralyzed for four years was able to voluntarily control his leg muscles and take thousands of steps in a “robotic exoskeleton” device during five days of training—and for two weeks afterward—a team of UCLA scientists reports this week.

This is the first time that a person with chronic, complete paralysis has regained enough voluntary control to actively work with a robotic device designed to enhance mobility.

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Possible Cure Found For Rare “Stone Man” Disease

Around the world, there are 800 confirmed cases (although the estimated total is higher) of a rare and debilitating disease called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). Better known as “stone man syndrome,” it causes muscle to turn into bone, locking limbs in place, and is often fatal. It is currently untreatable, but scientists think they may now be a step closer to a cure.

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Making Rain In The UAE

According to cloud seeders the process doesn’t actually create the weather it can only increase the chances of a producing raining and possibly increase the amount of rain that falls from the cloud. The way it’s done is by looking at local cloud formations and choosing the ones with the best chances of precipitation. They shoot missiles containing silver iodide and calcium chloride into the base of the forming cloud and depending on the amount of updraft present they select the amount of missiles to fire. If the updraft is mild only 1 or 2 salt missiles can be taken up by the cloud but if it’s a good updraft they will fire up to 6 missiles. Cloud seeding often makes it rain but it’s never guaranteed.

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Real-life ‘Jurassic Park’?

Russian scientists have begun their quest to clone pre-historic animals, including but not limited to a woolly mammoth, hoping that Siberian permafrost will give them a competitive advantage and the good possibly of finding undamaged DNA samples to resurrect the ancient species.

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