Stories tagged skin

Whoo-hoo! It's finally Friday. And that means it's time for another Science Friday video. Science Friday
Science Friday
Courtesy Science Friday
"In some ways, Schwendeman's Taxidermy Studio is like any other small family business. David B. Schwendeman runs the shop, which was established by his grandfather nearly ninety years ago. David's nephews regularly help out. In other ways, it's not like anything you'd expect to find on Main St. in Milltown, New Jersey. Take a tour of the studio and learn how to flesh a bear, mount a rack and split an ear."

If that doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy, I don't know what will...

More on taxidermy and diorama displays from Science Friday

"Doctor Fish": The hand will be skeletal inside of three minutes.
"Doctor Fish": The hand will be skeletal inside of three minutes.Courtesy Nemo's great uncle
I pride myself in my ability to scoot along the greasy razor edge of what’s cool at any given moment. Like right now this is cool: Tentacles. And…now collecting vintage Booberry, Frankenberry, and Count Chocula boxes is cool. And now tentacles are cool again.

It amazes me, then, that this new wave splashed right by me: foot flesh-eating fish. Or, really, I suppose they’d eat flesh from anywhere, but what they’re getting is foot flesh. But how could I have missed this for so long? I mean, Tyra Banks, Eastern Europe, and big chunks of Asia are already all about flesh-eating fish. Sure, Tyra Banks is a little wiser than most people, and I can’t remember a time when Eastern Europe wasn’t dancing on the cutting edge, but that doesn’t mean I have to feel good about it.

So, what we’re dealing with here, to go back to the very beginning, are little carp, Garra ruffa. The carp are native to rivers across the Middle East, and are kept and bred in outdoor pools in Turkish spas. Why? Because they swarm people and eat the dead skin off their bodies.

Take a look.

The fish eat skin because food can be scarce in the warm pools they live in, and because their little jaws are toothless, they’re only able to eat dead skin.

Apparently dead skin isn’t very cool. (I have a feeling that it’s going to be the next big thing, though.) If you’ve got some dead skin on your feet that you’re afraid people will see, there’s a foot fish spa near D.C. The fish are also recommended as an alternative treatment for psoriasis, but you might have to cross an ocean to get to a pool full of psoriatic plaque-gulping fish.

The circle of life. Fantastic.


There's actually not enough there to...: Oh, whatever. Have at it.
There's actually not enough there to...: Oh, whatever. Have at it.Courtesy Cayusa
Mothers! Quick! Smack yer little babies’ thumbs out of their mouths and replace them with something a little more legal, like cigarettes! Now! It’s for their own good!

See, apparently our skin is constantly producing “endocannaboids,” substances not unlike the active ingredients in marijuana.

“Wait,” you say. “My skin is covered in the dank? I need… I need… a carrot peeler!”

No! Chill out! That would be super gross, and I can’t believe you even thought of that! If anything, what you need is a hole-cutting drill bit and a melon baller, because it’s your brain that produces the most endocannaboids.

A new study examines the function of endocannaboids in the skin, and how that might be linked to their presence in the brain.

The skin seems to produce these marijuana-like chemicals as a response to environmental stresses like wind and sun. Endocannaboids help glands in the skin produce the oily substances that protect us from the elements, and which also contribute to pimples and hair loss.

The brain produces similar chemicals in response to stressors and rewards, and they make us feel anxious, or pleased, or whatever. Psychological stress, however, may prompt the skin—as well as the brain—to start producing these chemicals, which lends credence to the thought that stress can cause acne and influence baldness.

As far as getting high from licking your arm goes…well it’s theoretically possible that endocannaboids could do the trick, but even if you were to, say, eat your whole arm, there wouldn’t be enough there to give you any psychological effect. Except whatever psychological effect would come from eating your own arm, I suppose.


Human embryos using animal eggs

Embryo, 8 cells
Embryo, 8 cellsCourtesy Ekem
Last week we learned that scientists cloned human embryos using adult skin and fertile eggs from a woman donor. Now the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority in Britain has approved creating human embryos using eggs from animals like cows or rabbits. Because the animal cell's nucleus would be removed before human DNA was added, scientists said the resulting egg would not be a chimera.

"Cow eggs seem to be every bit as good at doing this job as human eggs," said Lyle Armstrong of Newcastle University.
"We will only use them as a scientific tool and we need not worry about cells being derived from them ever being used to treat human diseases," Armstrong said.

Technique eliminates destruction of human eggs

Animal eggs are abundant and easily obtained. Researchers hope to refine their techniques by practicing first on animal eggs to producing human stem cells. Human stem cells, which have the ability to develop into any cell in the human body, show promise for understanding and healing many human ailments. The embryos would not be allowed to develop for more than two weeks.


Blastocyst day 5
Blastocyst day 5Courtesy Ekem

DNA from clone identical to that from adult skin donor

A paper published in the online journal, Stem Cells, yesterday titled "Development of Human cloned Blastocysts Following Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) with Adult Fibroblasts" is the first documented demonstration that ordinary cells from an adult human can be used to make cloned embryos mature enough to produce stem cells

"A research team at Stemagen, a biotech company based in San Diego, California, started with skin cells donated by two men and 25 eggs, or oocytes, donated by women at a nearby fertility center. The scientists removed the DNA-containing nuclei from the eggs and replaced them with DNA from the donor skin cells. Two of the eggs became 5-day-old embryos, or blastocysts, that were clones of the male donors."Science

Why are we cloning humans?

The next big step will be to create a human embryonic stem cell line from cloned embryos. Stem cells from cloned embryos could provide a valuable tool for studying diseases, screening drugs, and creating transplant material to treat conditions like diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

Should we be doing this?

As expected, critics are raising objections. This procedure requires cutting healthy eggs out of women, then altering them to produce living embryos, which are then destroyed. Should this be allowed?

Read more

Researchers at Stanford University have discovered a protein that contributes to skin aging. Then they developed a lotion that counters the protein. Then they genetically engineered a mouse to respond to the treatment. After two weeks, the skin of test mice was nice and smooth again.

Still, seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through for younger-looking mice.


Unlikely cure: Not only does it look weird, but new research finds that duct tape is not the best way to get rid of warts. The new study found it effective only 21 percent of the time.
Unlikely cure: Not only does it look weird, but new research finds that duct tape is not the best way to get rid of warts. The new study found it effective only 21 percent of the time.
I’m sorry to tell you this Red Green, but you might want to clean out that duct tape in your medicine cabinet.

New studies contradict the idea that duct tape is effective in curing warts. You might remember all the hubbub a few years ago that said the best way to get rid of warts was to put a piece of duct tape on the warty area and they would soon be dissolved away.

That study was done in 2002, but a new study done over a larger group of subjects showed that duct tape worked only 21 percent of the time in dissolving warts.

Warts are caused by a virus that hangs around in the outer layers of our skin. They’re in a place that’s hard for our bodies immune system to get its antibodies to attack the virus. The original theory behind the duct tape treatment concept was that rubber on the sticky side of the duct tape would irritate the skin enough to stimulate antibodies to go to the wart and kill it off.

But the new study found that duct tape was no more effective in treating warts than moleskin bandages, which are a cotton tape bandage similar to a Band-aid.

According to the experts in the field, the best way to treat warts is to use over-the-counter topical treatments that contain salicylic acid. Doctors will sometimes use laser therapy or liquid nitrogen to zap especially pesky warts. Without any treatment, most common warts will clear up on their own within two years.