Last updated June 29, 2017 at 11:26 am
The Check Up is a weekly feature highlighting some of the best, most fascinating, most important, or simply unmissable health, medical, and human stories from around the web. This week, guest contributor Geetanjali Rangnekar takes over!
Move over Iron Man…
This first story encapsulates everything that’s awesome about scientific inventions. A 4-year-old company called Open Bionics has produced a 3-D printed bionic hand for people, in particular children, who have lost their hands due to diseases or accidents. The hands look very futuristic, like something out of a sci-fi film, in fact there’s actually a ‘Star Wars’ version available. This award-winning innovation is low-cost, wearer-specific and can be produced in just over 42 hours. A world-first clinical trial is currently underway. If successful, these bionic limbs will be rolled out as part of a free National Health Service in Britain, with the potential to change the lives of thousands of amputees!
Pigs in brains
A biotech company from New Zealand may be on the brink of a novel therapy for Parkinson’s disease; a progressive disease of the central nervous system which causes debilitating symptoms and has no known cure. They have implanted cells from the brains of pigs into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s. These cells are known to produce various growth factors and maintain nerve cell health, and are delivered in the form of a seaweed-like capsule. This seems to be one of the most promising treatments currently being trialled, as others involve using gene editing technologies (CRISPR) or stem cells derived from aborted foetuses, which are rather contentious issues. Medical advances like this could have significant implications for people suffering from Parkinson’s, and other degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s, with the potential of giving them a new lease of life.
Broccoli to the rescue
This next story may make the broccoli-haters amongst us balk, but it turns out this rather misunderstood veggie may be a hero in disguise, particularly for people suffering from type II Diabetes. In this disease, the cells of the body are unable to respond to and use glucose, which leads to many medical problems. A laboratory in Sweden may have discovered a new treatment using an extract naturally found in broccoli, called sulforaphane. A powder form was given to type II diabetes patients and found to significantly bring down blood sugar levels, enough to reduce the complications associated with this disease. This compound could be a potential new therapy for diabetes sufferers who cannot use the current medication of choice, metformin, due to kidney damage. The extract administered was equivalent to consuming 5 kilos of broccoli. But before you go empty your local supermarket of its broccoli stock, know that there’s still work to be done. But all in all, so far, this seems to be some pretty sweet news for the many millions affected by this disease.
Light ‘em up
Who doesn’t hate mozzies? They’re annoying, and if you are like me, nothing you do seems to deter these critters from taking a bite. In some parts of the world, where malaria is still a big problem, these nasty creatures leave you with more than just itchy lumps. The culprit mosquito responsible for causing this awful illness, the Anopheles gambiae, has managed to adapt its feeding times to when people are not protected by nets and have even developed resistance to insecticides. But, the experts from the University of Notre Dame may have come up with a new way of manipulating this behaviour through exposure to white light. They found that this technique considerably suppressed the mosquitoes’ propensity to bite. Next, they used a multi-pulse approach over a 12-hour night time period, and found that this too curbed biting behaviour. This application is still in its testing stages, with the researchers keen on using wavelengths of light that won’t disturb sleep. Personally, I can’t wait for this to be rolled out, if it will keep the damn mozzies at bay.
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