August 17, 2018

Week In STEM – 23rd May

Galaxy School Holds 11th Science Fair

Galaxy International School recently held its 11th annual science fair at the Accra International Conference Centre. Pupils of the school between the ages of 3 and 16 show-cased various science experiments in physics, chemistry, biology, social sciences and the arts at the fair.

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Thunder God Vine A Potential Obesity Treatment


An extract from the thunder god vine, which has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, reduces food intake and causes up to a 45% decrease in body weight in obese mice. The weight-loss compound, called Celastrol, produces its potent effects by enhancing the action of an appetite-suppressing hormone called leptin. The findings are an early indicator that Celastrol could be developed into a drug for the treatment of obesity.

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New Approach To Cleaning Up MRSA Infections

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This “nanosponge-hydrogel” minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA – without the use of antibiotics.

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Magical Chrome Extension Puts Tabs To Sleep

The new Chrome extension puts tabs to sleep after a period of inactivity allowing to save memory on your computer. However be warned, the tab will have to be reloaded after been put to sleep, not advisable for people counting every megabyte

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Yeast Based Drug Synthesis

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by bioengineers at the University of California, Berkeley, has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

“What you really want to do from a fermentation perspective is to be able to feed the yeast glucose, which is a cheap sugar source, and have the yeast do all the chemical steps required downstream to make your target therapeutic drug,” said Dueber, the study’s principal investigator and an assistant professor of bioengineering.

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Brain Levels Of Iron Linked To Alzheimer’s

Our bodies need iron to be healthy – but too much could harm our brains by bringing on Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have suggested that people with Alzheimer’s also have higher iron levels in their brains. Now it seems that high iron may hasten the disease’s onset.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia followed 144 older people who had mild cognitive impairment for seven years. To gauge how much iron was in their brains, they measured ferritin, a protein that binds to the metal, in their cerebrospinal fluid. For every nanogram per millilitre people had at the start of the study, they were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on average three months earlier.

Iron is highly reactive, so it probably subjects neurons to chemical stress, says team member Scott Ayton.

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Young blood accelerates healing process in aged mice

Young blood has once again shown its promise as an elixir of youth: blood from young mice helps bones of older animals heal.

The team surgically joined the circulatory systems of mice of various ages, in a procedure known as parabiosis. Fractured shin bones of old mice healed faster and better when the rodents were joined to young mice than to mice their own age. In contrast, young mice that received blood from old mice had a slightly decreased ability to repair their fractured bones.

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Oldest Stone Tools Predate Earliest Humans

The world’s oldest stone tools have been discovered, scientists report. They were unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years ago. They are 700,000 years older than any tools found before, even pre-dating the earliest humans in the Homo genus.

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