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Archive for the ‘health’ category: Page 6

Apr 4, 2019

Building a Hardware Store Faraday Cage

Posted by in categories: habitats, health, mathematics

Most Hackaday readers are no doubt familiar with the Faraday cage, at least in name, and nearly everyone owns one: if you’ve ever stood watching a bag of popcorn slowly revolve inside of a microwave, you’be seen Michael Faraday’s 1836 invention in action. Yet despite being such a well known device, the average hacker still doesn’t have one in their arsenal. But why?

It could be that there’s a certain mystique about Faraday cages, an assumption that their construction requires techniques or materials outside the realm of the home hacker. While it’s true that building a perfect Faraday cage for a given frequency involves math and careful attention to detail, putting together a simple model for general purpose use and experimentation turns out to be quick and easy.

As an exercise in minimalist hacking I recently built a basic Faraday cage out of materials sourced from Home Depot, and thought it would be interesting to not only describe its construction but give some ideas as to how one can put it to practical use in the home lab. While it’s hardly a perfect specimen, it clearly works, and it didn’t take anything that can’t be sourced locally pretty much anywhere in the world.

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Apr 3, 2019

Scientists worry ‘zombie deer’ disease could jump to humans

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health

If you’ve heard of “zombie deer,” you’ve heard of the horrors of chronic wasting disease. CWD causes infected animals to stumble through the forest, sometimes drooling and becoming aggressive towards humans they once feared. They lose weight. They’re listless. The spookiest thing about it, though, isn’t its resemblance to zombie-dom—it’s the fact that it’s an incurable prion disease.

Prions are misfolded proteins that are somehow infectious (we’re still not really sure how or why) and for which we have no treatments or cures. If you were to catch one, you’d basically deteriorate over the course of several months, possibly losing the ability to speak or move, and eventually you would die. Doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything to save you.

Right now, CWD appears limited to deer, moose, and elk. But University of Minnesota researchers warned local lawmakers this week that we should be taking action now to prevent the potential spread to humans. Michael Osterholm, director of the university’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Prevention, testified that “It is my best professional judgment based on my public health experience and the risk of BSE transmission to humans in the 1980s and 1990s and my extensive review and evaluation of laboratory research studies … that it is probable that human cases of CWD associated with the consumption of contaminated meat will be documented in the years ahead. It is possible that number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events,” according to the Pioneer Press.

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Apr 3, 2019

Nature versus nurture: Environment exerts greater influence on corn health than genetics

Posted by in categories: biological, food, genetics, health, sustainability

Oops, duh, Eureka… shouted Archimedes… Or something.


Corn leaves are teaming with bacteria communities (the leaf “microbiome”) that influence plant health and performance, and scientists are still figuring out how. A team of scientists led by Dr. Jason Wallace recently published a study in the open access Phytobiomes Journal that advances what we know about these bacterial communities by investigating their relationships with corn genetics. According to Dr. Wallace, “the end-goal of all this research is to understand how crops interact with their microbial communities so we can harness them to make agriculture more productive and sustainable.”

In one of the largest and most diverse leaf microbe studies to date, the team monitored the active bacteria on the leaves of 300 diverse lines of corn growing in a common environment. They were especially interested to see how corn genes affected bacteria and found there was little relationship between the two — in fact, the bacteria were much more affected by the environment, although genetics still had a small role.

This is an interesting discovery that “breeding probably isn’t the best way to address this,” Dr. Wallace says. Instead, “the leaf community is probably better changed through farmer management.” That is, farmers should be able to change growing practices to enhance their current crops rather than seek out new plant varieties.

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Apr 2, 2019

Gut microbiome directs the immune system to fight cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

The advent of immune checkpoint inhibitors—which “release the brakes” of the body’s immune system to launch an efficient tumor attack—are a major breakthrough in cancer immunotherapy. However, these treatments don’t work for everybody and are often associated with significant side effects. The ability to stratify patients based on potential response to immune checkpoint inhibitors could therefore personalize cancer treatment. Efforts to understand the regulation of anti-tumor immunity (when the immune system fights a tumor) point to the importance of the gut microbiome. However, the underlying molecular mechanism(s) remain largely elusive.

Now, a worldwide collaboration involving more than 40 scientists and three hospitals led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys has demonstrated a causal link between the gut microbiome and the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Together, the researchers identified a cocktail of 11 that activated the immune system and slowed the growth of melanoma in mice. The study also points to the role of unfolded protein response (UPR), a cellular signaling pathway that maintains protein health (homeostasis). Reduced UPR was seen in melanoma patients who are responsive to immune checkpoint therapy, revealing potential markers for patient stratification. The study was published in Nature Communications.

“Immunotherapies have extended the lives of many cancer patients. However, the incredible effects we are seeing today are only the tip of the iceberg. By studying mechanisms of treatment response versus resistance, we can eventually expand the number of people who benefit from immunotherapy,” says Thomas Gajewski, M.D., Ph.D., the AbbVie Foundation Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Chicago Medicine. “This study provides an important step toward this goal. The investigators have pinpointed the UPR as an important link between the gut microbiota and anti-tumor immunity. Given previous work indicating a causal role for the host microbiota in the efficacy of checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, this additional mechanistic insight should help select patients who will respond to treatment and also help to guide new therapeutic development.”

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Apr 2, 2019

Dr. George Church — IdeaXme Show — Ira Pastor

Posted by in categories: aging, alien life, big data, bioengineering, biotech/medical, business, DNA, genetics, health, life extension

Apr 2, 2019

2019 Gairdner Awards: Winners hailed for discoveries on DNA replication and power of stem cells to fight cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

It is fitting, then, that the groundbreaking research he’s done on mental health has, in a very real way, improved the lives of millions of people in the developing world.

Dr. Patel is the 2019 recipient of the prestigious John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award, which recognizes “his world-leading research in global mental health, providing greater knowledge on the burden and the determinants of mental disorders in low- and middle-income countries and pioneering approach for the treatment of mental health in low-resource settings.”

Dr. Patel, a professor of global health at Harvard University, said, modestly, that his greatest achievement is “having generated knowledge to change hearts and minds about the importance of mental health everywhere in the world.”

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Apr 1, 2019

Are We Ready For An Implant That Can Change Our Moods?

Posted by in categories: health, neuroscience

Deep Brain Stimulation For Depression, Mood Disorders Could Be Ethically Fraught : Shots — Health News Deep brain stimulation offers relief from some neurological problems and is being tested for mood disorders. But the treatment — an implant in the brain — raises ethical questions.

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Mar 30, 2019

Doing this one thing can boost memory and help prevent Alzheimer’s

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

Results showed the hippocampus experienced a boost both immediately after exercise and after continued habitual exercise following a 12-week regiment.

Getty Images

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Mar 30, 2019

World’s First HIV-to-HIV Kidney Transplant with Living Donor Performed Successfully

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

The ability to use organs from living HIV-positive individuals could increase the supply available for transplant.

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Mar 29, 2019

NUI Galway to Lead €13 Million SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, economics, food, genetics, health, science

NUI Galway will lead a new €13 million SFI Centre for Research Training in Genomics Data Science. The new Centre will train a generation of 100 highly skilled PhD graduates to harness the collective potential of genomics and data science to have transformative scientific, economic and societal impacts.

Announced recently by Minister Heather Humphreys TD Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD and Science Foundation Ireland, the Centre will be led by NUI Galway and will involve partners from UCD, TCD, RCSI and UCC.

A genome is an organisms complete set of DNA or genetic material and it contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. Genomics is the branch of science that studies genomes to see how they direct the growth and function of cells and organisms and it is a key area of fundamental science with real-world impacts in areas from human health to agriculture and food production. In recent years the field of genomics has undergone a revolution, driven by new technologies that generate data on an enormous scale. In order to make sense of the large and complex datasets arising from analysis of genomes, we require highly trained data scientists, who can turn this data into useful information that can increase scientific understanding and enable us to harness the power of genomics to drive innovation and create real-world solutions.

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