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Say Goodbye to Fillings

The drug promotes natural repair by stimulating the stem cells in the tooth pulp
The drug promotes natural repair by stimulating the stem cells in the tooth pulp(Credit:pressmaster/Depositphotos)

 

There’s not a whole lot to like about fillings, what with the prodding, scraping and jabbing and all. And that’s before the drill even comes out (followed by the bill at the end). Tending to our cavities might one day be a much more comfortable experience, with scientists discovering that a type of Alzheimer’s drug can actually stimulate stem cells within the tooth pulp to promote natural repair instead.

The drug in question is a small molecule called a glycogen synthase kinase (GSK-3) inhibitor. read more

Fat Burning Patch

Prof. Chen Peng (left) and Asst Prof Xu Chenjie, with a batch of the patches
Prof. Chen Peng (left) and Asst Prof Xu Chenjie, with a batch of the patches(Credit: Nanyang Technological University)

There are already skin patches that help people quit smoking … could patches that help them lose weight be far behind? Well, thanks to research being conducted at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, the things already exist – for mice, at least. read more

Weapon Wednesday – PTSD Sufferers Hear Their Own Brain Waves

A novel form of treatment has reduced symptoms of PTSD by allowing patients to "hear" their...
A novel form of treatment has reduced symptoms of PTSD by allowing patients to “hear” their own brainwaves(Credit: Andreus/Depositphotos)

Currently, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is usually treated with psychotherapy and antidepressants, but with the variability of the human mind those aren’t always effective. Now a study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has found that a novel form of treatment reduced symptoms of the disorder by effectively letting patients “hear” their own brainwaves. read more

Laser Shoes Keep Parkinson’s Victims Moving

Not everyone can walk smoothly like this – people with Parkinson's disease sometimes experience "gait freeze"
Not everyone can walk smoothly like this – people with Parkinson’s disease sometimes experience “gait freeze”(Credit: olechowski/Depositphotos)

One of the more debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is something known as “gait freeze,” wherein the person temporarily loses the ability to step forward while walking. Dutch scientists from the University of Twente and Radboud University Medical Center, however, have come up with something that significantly reduces the problem – they’ve developed shoes with lasers in them. read more

Italian Family Feels No Pain

Scientists have isolated a genetic mutation that appears to render an Italian family unable to feel...
Scientists have isolated a genetic mutation that appears to render an Italian family unable to feel pain, and the find may help develop new treatments for people suffering chronic pain(Credit: zimmytws/Depositphotos)

Unpleasant as it is, pain serves an important function by telling us that something is wrong. But for people suffering from chronic pain conditions, the message is blaring constantly, and conventional painkillers aren’t all that effective. Now, a new hope for relief might have been found in the strange case of an Italian family, who all have a genetic mutation that makes them feel almost no pain at all. read more

Alcoholism Drug Fights Cancer

An old drug prescribed to help people stop drinking alcohol may be an effective cancer-killer, according to new study.

The drug, Antabuse, appears to ‘freeze’ cancer in place, preventing them from getting rid of waste, which, ultimately, kills them.

Danish and Czech researchers tested the drug in live mice and human cancer cells and found that it was effective in both without harming other cells.

These findings are not enough to indicate how Antabuse would behave in living people, but the drug is already FDA-approved and its patent is long expired, so if further testing is as promising as this study’s findings, the drug could someday be a cheap alternative cancer treatment. read more

3D Printed Organs

An artificial prostate fitted with a soft sensor
An artificial prostate fitted with a soft sensor(Credit: McAlpine Research Group)

An international team of researchers has used 3D-printing technology to produce individually-tailored model organs. These dummy organs could one day improve your chances of surviving surgery, by allowing doctors to plan and practice a lifesaving procedure on a realistic replica before putting you to the scalpel.

Surgery is often a matter of life or death. The ability to practice a procedure outside of the operating room on an artificial human, or at least the relevant organ of a patient, can help to prepare a doctor for surgery, and so increase the chances of a patient surviving the procedure. read more

New Cancer Treatment Won’t Harm Healthy Cells

Iridium, a rare metal brought to Earth by asteroids, has been found to be an effective...Iridium, a rare metal brought to Earth by asteroids, has been found to be an effective cancer-killer(Credit: Shad.off/Depositphotos)

Over 65 million years ago, an asteroid some 10 km (6 mi) wide crashed into the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. Strangely, the legacy of this huge space rock could include a treatment for cancer after scientists from the UK and China demonstrated that iridium – a rare metal delivered to Earth by the asteroid – can be enlisted to kill cancer without harming healthy cells. read more

Weapon Wednesday – Well – Not Really

A new prosthetic developed by the Office of Naval Research is designed to be more comfortable...
A new prosthetic developed by the Office of Naval Research is designed to be more comfortable to wear, and is fitted with sensors to monitor for infection and stress(Credit:Joseph Xu/Senior Multimedia Content Producer, University of Michigan – College of Engineering)

As useful as they are for amputees, prosthetic legs aren’t the most comfortable things to wear. With the whole body pressing down on the point of contact, they can be painful, awkward to walk with and cause infections. Now scientists from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) have developed a more comfortable and “smart” prosthetic that can be attached and detached at will, and monitored for infection and stress with an array of sensors. read more

Life Extended by 20 Percent

A sample of the mitochondria (shown in green) of the fruit flies used in the study....
A sample of the mitochondria (shown in green) of the fruit flies used in the study. Upper left was taken at 10 days old, upper right at 28 days, and both lower images are from 37 days old. The bottom-right image though, shows how the mitochondria was reduced to a size typical of younger flies after treatment with Drp1 protein.(Credit: Nature Communications/Anil Rana)

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have figured out a way to extend the life of female fruit flies by 20 percent by manipulating what the school has called a “cellular time machine.” The biologists who carried out the work are hopeful that their findings will have implications for human aging and help fight off age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. read more