Can Pig Brain Cells Treat Parkinson’s?

If you’ve ever seen “Splice” you can probably assume that the incorporation of animal DNA into human bodies is slowly becoming a reality. Zebrafish compounds have been used to manage metabolism. Squalamine in sharks have cured infectious diseases. Now, brain cells from pigs are being implanted into humans in the hopes of treating Parkinson’s Disease.

New Zealand biotech company Living Cell Technologies has developed a treatment for Parkinson’s disease using choroid plexus cells from pigs.

“It’s putting in a little neurochemical factory to promote new nerve cell growth and repair,”

While Living Cell Technologies have yet to see how this new technique stacks up to already existing treatments, they are hopeful for its success.

Assuming this treatment is effective, it may be extended to treat other neurological disorders such as Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s.

Successful treatments for Parkinson’s disease could help millions of people — up to one million in the U.S., and an estimated seven to 10 million around the world. About 60,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson’s annually.

Parkinson’s Disease sees the gradual loss of dopamine-making brain cells. Many cases of Parkinson’s remain mostly undetected.

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Skirt-Wearing Schoolboys Protest No-Shorts Policy

If you’ve ever attended an all-girls Catholic private school, the one-inch-above-the-knee rule is about as real as you can get. Your dress determined your principles, and if you were a millimeter of par, you may as well have been publicly shunned. While I didn’t exactly have the guts to protest my long, itchy skirt against a horde of nuns, these schoolboys from Isca Academy in Exter sure did.

School boys from the Isca Academy in Exeter opposed to their school’s no-shorts policy responded by showing up in the school’s dress code-approved (but reserved for girls) tartan skirts.

For the last five days British citizens have suffered through a sizzling heatwave, and yesterday’s temperature beat record for the hottest day in 41 years.

The skirt-wearing demonstration was prompted by call center agent Joey Barge who, after breaking office dress code by wearing shorts, returned the next day in a dress code-approved dress. As incredible acts should, Joey’s endeavor went viral.

The Exeter boys’ protest encouraged headteacher Aimee Mitchell to adjust the dress-code policy accordingly.

“Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families,” she said. “However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

With summer easing in, wear out all the shorts in your wardrobe. And in the process, maybe break some gender constructs too.

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After 20 Years 132-Year-Old Lobster Finally Free

I am a sucker for contemporary Good Samaritan tales. Just a few days ago, a video of firefighters rescuing a tiny kitten from inside a PVC pipe plagued social media and left me sifting through YouTube for clips of passers-by saving animals caught in conundrums. Most recently, Butch Yamali of Peter’s Clam Bar in Hempstead paid it forward to a 132-year-old lobster named Louie.

“Today I’m announcing an official pardon for Louie the Lobster,” announced Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino. “Louie may have faced a buttery fate on a seafood lover’s plate, but today we are here to return Louie to a life that is better down where it’s wetter,”

Prior to his release, someone had offered to pay a hefty sum of $1,000 for Louie to be the star of his Father’s Day dinner. Yamali politely declined, claiming Louie was more like a pet.

Having lived 112 years in the Atlantic beach reef, experts deem that Louie will have no trouble adapting to a life in the wild.

“He’ll be just fine. There aren’t many predators who want to eat a big old lobster like that,” says Bob Bayer, executive director of the Lobster Institute in Maine. “Hopefully, he finds a mate – and lives happily ever after.”

Now, why don’t we talk about freeing up Louie’s buddies?

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How Will Artificial Intelligences Shape The Future?

Day by day, doing work is made easier by various technologies such as household machines, virtual assistants, and the Internet. With people relying heavier on technology each year, we must ask ourselves how artificial intelligences will shape the future. Michael Hanuschick, Janet Baker, and James Kuffner provide their input.

Baker is skeptical about the developing AI, but concludes that proper use of technology is all about awareness:

“Powerful technologies will be used and abused… We must be aware and take active roles in advancing our capabilities and protecting ourselves from harm––including the harm from escalating prejudices we foster by isolating ourselves from differing ideas (e.g., with polarized news feeds) and productive discourse about them.”

Kuffner believes that AI exists for the better:

“AI will enhance and augment the human experience. Historically, humans have formed strong bonds — even relationships — with their automobiles (machines).”

Hanuschick thinks AIs can effectively handle small tasks, while the bigger ones must be dealt with by us:

“Jobs based on fairly simple and repetitive tasks will probably continue to disappear, but anything more complex is likely to be around for quite some time. I haven’t seen evidence that a true AI, with the ability to understand and reason, will be seen in our lifetimes.”

Many fear that AIs will eventually replace the human workforce, but others are optimistic that they will complement our vision for the future. And while AI’s customizable looks may be the least of our worries, who wouldn’t want a robot version of Brad Pitt?

Do you think AIs will benefit our community?

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Speaking Through Music

Through history, music has managed to transform the lives of people by means of success, healing, and a simple dose of good vibes. Whether you’re going through a break-up or lack shower tunes, music has got your back. Lately, researchers at the University of Plymouth have found that music has, once again, gone above and beyond, and is now being incorporated as an effective type of therapy.

Tailored music sessions could be crucial in transforming the lives of millions of people whose speech is impacted by learning difficulties, strokes, dementia, brain damage and autism, a new study suggests.

It could enable individuals and their families to feel less isolated or neglected within society, while enhancing their ability to communicate, both with each other and the wider world.

As a huge fan of the phrase “giving a voice to the voiceless” it came as no surprise to hear that music can successfully restore one’s motor skills.

“What we have shown is that music can give people a voice, allowing them to explore their creativity as well as communicating both pleasure and pain,” [said Jocey Quinn, professor at the university].

“We are pleased to see that the results of this study provide credible and robust evidence that demonstrates the wide social benefits of art and culture and hope this goes some way to making the links truly recognised.”

The University of Plymouth hopes that lessons will soon be implemented internationally.

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Paw Pods: Eco-Friendly Pet Burials

The loss of a pet, no matter how prepared we think we are, is always more devastating than we’d expect. The feeling is often equivalent to coping with the death of a family member. While most pets are honored with the classic backyard burial, Paw Pods hopes to pave the way towards proper pet funerals–and in a sustainable manner, too.

The urns and pods from Paw Pods are all made from bamboo powder, rice husk, and corn starch, and are designed to be decorated with paint, markers, or other craft items as a way for grieving kids and adults to express their feelings through art, and then after burial, to fully biodegrade within 3 to 5 years.

What about fish? While a flush funeral is about as traditional as you can get, it might not do much good for your plumbing. But not to worry, Paw Pods has also considered pods for smaller animals.

Paw Pods offers the Fish Pod, which is fish-shaped, as a way for kids to “avoid the trauma of seeing a pet flushed down the toilet,” as well as a mini pod for small pets, medium pods for pets such as cats, birds, rabbits, and smaller dogs, and large pods for dogs and other bigger animals.

Also available are urns and memorial cards filled with perennial flower seeds for a nice garden touch.

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Free The Tatas For A Cause

If you have been taking in your daily dose of tabloid drama, you’d know that braless celebrities are often a major point of conversation. Whether it’s Kendall Jenner or Britney Spears, the same sentiment remains–cover it up! While I don’t necessarily prefer to bare it all in public, I don’t always find myself scrambling back up to my apartment when I forget I’m not wearing a bra on the way to run a quick errand. Robyn and Michelle Lyle, masterminds behind the TaTa Top, don’t seem to think bras are necessary either.

The bikini top… made it look like the wearer was walking around topless, even though they weren’t.

“From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to use a sense of humor to shed light on some serious issues while simultaneously raising funds and awareness for two areas we are extremely passionate about: breast cancer awareness and women’s rights.”

TaTa Tops doesn’t only speak boldly, it forwards a sum of $5 on a rotating basis to a variety of groups that focus on research and breast education.

Robyn and Michelle wanted to do something that challenged the status quo and would draw attention to the sexism women face in America.

Will you bare it all for boobies?

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Mom’s Viral Post On Depression Breaks Stigma On Mental Health

I suffer from paranoid personality disorder and find that the worst piece of advice I’ve been offered was to, “Just be happy.” With frequent bouts of unrelenting mistrust and anxiety that are oftentimes sporadic and unexplained, “just be happy,” is not something I can do. My family, who are in-the-know, are generally supportive of the fact that I take medication–but often verbalize that I should no longer be on them, due to “how much I’ve improved.” Laura Mazza, the voice behind “Mum On The Run”, in a recent FaceBook post, reminded us that “it’s okay not to be okay.”

Mazza describes the multitude of reasons to take antidepressants. Depression and anxiety affect everyone differently; one person’s suffering may look completely different from another’s and no one should feel shame about it, yet shame is part of the stigma.

Mazza gets candid about antidepressants as form of treatment, and how beneficial they can be to those who need them.

Comparing the “invisibility” of mental illness to purely physical diseases and conditions may help everyone better understand that sometimes, medication is necessary for people to survive just like any other life-threatening condition.

In this day and age, asking for help seems a foreign language to us. But Mazza concludes her post by battling this notion of fear.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time. You don’t have to sweep it under the rug, and carry on smiling for everyone else. It’s not a problem to not be okay, it’s only a problem to pretend to be okay when we are not. So, you need to take antidepressants… and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.”

You never know what it takes to save a person.

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Color-Changing Tattoos Can Save Your Life

Most tattoo enthusiasts spend months to years contemplating the perfect design. I, on the other hand, take hours to decide whether to do Chinese take-out or cold pizza for dinner. And while body art is aesthetic and meaningful–can it be practical? MIT certainly thinks so. New color-changing ink technology can indicate changes in the body’s blood sugar and sodium levels.

Using a liquid with biosensors instead of traditional ink, scientists want to turn the surface of the human skin into an “interactive display.”

So far, the team has developed three different inks that shift color in response to changes in interstitial fluid.

The three inks measure glucose, pH, and sodium, which is a breakthrough for diabetics. For those on a strict diet (or simply nerds in the health data department), monitoring intakes and bodily adjustments has never been easier.

Unfortunately, the bio-sensing tattoos are still being tested and no human trials have been announced.

So far, DermalAbyss is only in the proof-of-concept stage, and there’s no indication of when it might become a real product.

Pigs, on the other hand, are seeing some luck.

The researchers have tested the inks on patches of pig skin, using injections to change the levels of the fluids to be detected.

Would you get a color-changing tattoo?

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3D Bioprinting: A New Toothy Trend

Though a relatively young concept, 3D printing has become the biggest trend of the decade–from building furniture to human body parts, it seems the possibility of a 3D-printed anything could eventually be on the market. This is because 3D printing is exponentially cheaper than using traditional machinery.

While I wouldn’t mind 3D printing an entirely brand-new wardrobe (in fact, I’d probably love it), I’ve always been somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to artificial organs. Most recently, 3D printing has been incorporated in creating blood vessels for alternative root canal treatments.

The findings are expected to have impact on root canal treatments which currently involves removing the tooth’s infected pulp and replacing it with a substance known as gutta-percha. This thermoplastic material is similar to rubber and is used to fill the inside of the tooth but cannot restore function since it removes the blood vessels.

The new approach uses pre-vascularized pulp-like tissue to promote dental pulp regeneration and allow for a better long-term treatment.

In layman’s terms, it is now possible to engineer blood vessels into extracted teeth.

Fabrication of artificial blood vessels can be a highly effective strategy for fully regenerating the function of teeth.

The dental industry holds much promise for 3D printing, although not typically on a biomedical sphere, as some see the technology as the future of crown production.

The Dubai Dental Authority plans to begin 3D printing teeth by the end of the year.

Remember kids–brush three times a day!

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