Stories tagged health

Here is an update on my post about California's whooping cough epidemic.

A ninth baby has died in California from whooping cough, health officials said Thursday.
All nine infants were under three months of age.
As of Tuesday, the state has recorded more illnesses due to whooping cough (4,017) than in any year since 1955. CNN

What is safest for newborns? Getting vaccinated or not getting vaccinated?

Sep
18
2010

Dyson hand dryer
Dyson hand dryerCourtesy Mr T in DC

How you dry your hands matters

Dyson, who makes a new type of "airblade" hand dryer, funded research which showed regular hot-air hand dryers could make your hands "germier".

When volunteers kept their hands still, the dryers reduced skin bacteria numbers by around 37 per cent compared to just after washing. But the count rose by 18 per cent when volunteers rubbed their hands under one of the machines. Paper towels proved the most efficient, halving the bacterial count even though volunteers rubbed their hands. That's because the towels actually scrape off the bacteria. Journal of Applied Microbiology

This mesage brought to you by ...

Reading this research paper made me think it was a commercial message written by the Dyson advertising department.

Sep
05
2010

Cotton for filters
Cotton for filtersCourtesy Martin Labar

Safe drinking water saves lives

Clean, safe drinking is desperately needed throughout the world. Usually filters "filter out" bacteria by having openings too small to get through. Trouble is, though, that the tiny holes get plugged up, stopping the flow of water. Stanford researchers have now developed a filter about 80,000 times faster than filters that trap bacteria.

Cheap and easy

The filter was made by dipping plain cotton cloth (from Walmart) in a mixture of silver nanowires and carbon nanotubes (for a few minutes). By charging the filter with 20 volts of electricity, over 98 percent of Escherichia coli bacteria were killed as they passed through. Even in remote or primitive areas, the electricity could be supplied by a small solar panel, or a couple 12-volt car batteries, or be generated from a stationary bicycle or by a hand-cranked device.

Cui said the next steps in the research are to try the filter on different types of bacteria and to run tests using several successive filters.
"With one filter, we can kill 98 percent of the bacteria," Cui said. "For drinking water, you don't want any live bacteria in the water, so we will have to use multiple filter stages."

Learn more
High-speed filter uses electrified nanostructures to purify water at low cost Stanford University News

Aug
19
2010

Pakistan flood
Pakistan floodCourtesy Nadir B

Millions of Pakistan flood victims desperate for aid

United Nation claims more than four million Pakistanis have been made homeless by nearly 3 weeks of flooding.

The number of Pakistani flood victims in need of urgent humanitarian relief has risen from six million to eight million, the U.N. said."

Water every where but none safe to drink

Outbreaks of cholera are common in large floods. Getting safe drinking water to many millions of people is urgent.

"We could have up to 140,000 cases of cholera," Sabatinelli (WHO) said. "We are preparing ourselves for that."

This disaster is "epic"

The after effects of this Pakistan flooding are worse than the 2004 Tsunami or the earthquakes in China and Haiti. Rebuilding roads, bridges, and buildings, and providing food, water and shelter to the many millions of flood victims is going to take billions of dollars.

Learn more about the Pakistan flood disaster

Going to the Minnesota State Fair is mostly about putting bad things into your body. Occasionally on the midway, things can come out of your body. But University of Minnesota researchers will be at the 2010 State Fair with hopes of taking DNA out of about 500 kids. And those who donate will get lots of cool stuff. But some wonder if this is the proper way to conduct medical research. What do you think?

And when I've got a headache, I reach for aspirin and caffeine, sometimes with a little hit of acetaminophen besides. Today, when I popped open the aspirin packet, I got wondering about that faint vinegar-y smell that aspirin often has.

Magic stuff: even if it's kind of smelly.
Magic stuff: even if it's kind of smelly.Courtesy jypsygen

Turns out that's chemistry in action. And probably also lousy storage. (And, yes, I realize Yahoo! Answers is not a good source, but some additional poking around confirms that this is the correct explanation, and the best written one, too.)

Jul
11
2010

Root canals are a pain

Endodontic therapy
Endodontic therapyCourtesy Jellocube27
A new gel could soon eliminate painful root canals. Actually, root canals are the hollow spaces inside teeth where nerves, blood vessels, and pulp fibroblast cells. When these tissues become infected a procedure called endodontic therapy completely removes these tissues, then decontaminates and fills the canal leaving a dead tooth.

Alternative keeps the tooth alive

"A team of French researchers has been working on a new approach that uses nanostructured and functionalized multilayered films to help regenerate teeth and fill in cavities" MedGadget

The scientists showed in laboratory tests alpha-MSH combined with a widely-used polymer produced a material that fights inflammation in dental pulp fibroblasts. American Chemical Society

It works in mice

"So far, the French scientists applied either a film or gel, both of which contained MSH, to cavity-filled mice teeth. After about one month, the cavities had disappeared", (said Benkirane-Jessel via msnbc).

Read the research

The research is described in ACS Nano; Nanostructured Assemblies for Dental Application

Jul
10
2010

Bloodshed happens

Bags of blood
Bags of bloodCourtesy spike55151

A lot of blood is shed every day. Many lives are being saved when that shed blood is replaced. Donated blood is only good for a few weeks. Also there is the worry about contamination (HIV, Aids, etc.). What the world needs is a way to manufacture and deliver blood as needed.

Wanted-fresh blood on tap

Our Defense Department's research division (DARPA) wants a a self-contained system that could turn out 100 units of universal blood a week for eight weeks. The system needs to withstand war front conditions and be not much bigger than a refrigerator.

$2 million awarded

That task and $1.95 million was assigned to Arteriocyte less than two years ago. (see Popular Mechanics, Dec 2008 - Bringing Stem Cells to War: Meet the Blood Pharmers). The technology, called Nanex, uses a nanofiber-based structure that mimics bone marrow in which blood cells multiply, according to the company. (cnet News)

FDA approval sought

This week an initial shipment of their pharmed blood product was sent to the Food and Drug Administration for an independent evaluation. If approved, their cost of $5000 per unit of manufactured blood will need to be reduced.

Still, given the price tag of transporting and storing donated blood, Darpa’s betting that a unit of pharmed blood will make financial sense once it costs less than $1,000. Wired

Jul
10
2010

Transplants without anti-rejection drugs

Pig parts progress
Pig parts progressCourtesy be_khe
A person with diabetes cannot make insulin so insulin needs to be injected at the proper time and amount. Transplanting insulin producing cells called islets may solve the need for insulin injections. Transplanting human islet cells requires an appropriate donor and a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs. Not good.

Pigs to the rescue

Before 1980 insulin from pigs allowed people with diabetes to survive. Pig heart valves transplants also worked out in humans.
Scientists recently injected embryonic pig pancreatic cells into rats which grew to became the pancreas, which houses the islet cells that produce insulin. Eight weeks later islet cells from adult pigs were transplanted into that pancreatic tissue and were not rejected

The new research -- the first long-term, successful cross-species transplant of pig islets without immune suppression -- raises the prospect that it may one day be possible to cure diabetes in humans using a similar strategy. Science Dailey

Success in rats - next try non-human primates

Marc Hammerman and his colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are now beginning experimentation using the same methods on non-human primates.

Learn more

The American journal of Pathology (click to see the research abstract).
Cure for Diabetes approaches reality Discovery News

The hype of H1N1 flu has run its course. News reports say that 40 million doses of unused vaccine (valued at $260 million) have been destroyed and that the flu impacted much fewer people than the regular seasonal flu. And there are millions more doses of the vaccine are set to expire at the end of this month. What just happened?