Pills and diets and workouts – oh my. Go to the health section at the grocery store and look around. Notice how obsessed we are with weight loss in this society. It may be a good thing, seeing as how obesity is a leading cause of preventable death worldwide, but that’s beside the point.
As obesity is linked to such ailments as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis, it should be no surprise that there’s a similar obsession with curbing obesity in the field of medical research. Obviously the best approach to combat obesity is a healthy diet and exercise, but researchers at the UT Health Science Center at Houston are beginning to develop a novel approach to control bulging waistlines. The lab of Dr. Mikhail Kolonin, in a study published in Cell Stem Cell, reports on a technique that can be used to target the stem cells that make fat in the adult. Continue reading →
Human Artificial Liver - Image taken from Chen et al., PNAS 2011
First of all – I hope you’ve missed these posts, and I apologize for the bit of neglect. I didn’t realize how long it had been since writing on here, but I have been traveling abroad going to a few conferences in the UK. Needless to say, the time needed to keep the blog updated hasn’t been available. But – I’m back now and newly inspired from the conferences to get back to work here. So let’s get on with it.
I’m sure you’ve all been made aware, at some point, of some amazing new drug being tested in animals before proceeding to human clinical trials. Research like that gets everyone excited, but it’s incredible how few drugs actually make it through human trials successfully. The sad fact is that animal models make a wonderful system for research and testing, but they are called animal models for a reason. As seen time and time again, a drug may be tremendously successful in animal testing and an epic fail when we move on to humans. However, research recently published in PNASby Alice Chen and Sangeeta Bhatia looked into ‘humanizing’ mice in an attempt to get around this problem. Continue reading →
Remember the days of floppy disks? Probably not fondly thanks to the advent of the glorious flash drive. Info is easily stored and just as easily accessed at any time, from anywhere. If only it were so easy to remember the name of that guy in that movie that you liked so much from last year.
What if you could get a sort of flash drive for your brain, designed to help improve your memory capabilities? Biomedical engineering may have the answer for you.
A group led by Dr. Theodore Berger of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, has created a microchip for the brain that, in rats, duplicates the neural signals associated with memory. This device, which works to reconnect damaged circuits in the brain, is detailed in their article in the June issue of the Journal of Neural Engineering.
You always used to hear that we would find a cure for cancer out in the rainforest somewhere…some chemical extracted from an unknown plant that looked more at home on the planet of Pandora than earth. Turns out, the secret cancer fighting compounds have been hiding right under our noses, torturing small children for ages.
That’s right, broccoli possesses a certain cancer-fighting ability, and research published in the January 2011 issue of the American Cancer Society’s Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, led by Dr.Fung-Lung Chung, finally determined what’s going on. Continue reading →