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Discovery Breakthrough: Paralyzed Rats Able to Pee

In a report published in the Journal of Neuroscience last June 25, a study revealed the ability of a lab rat to decide and act on the impulse to urinate due to a new treatment which has been discovered to encourage and coax shot and paralyzed nerves to re-activate. And in this case, instead of small dribbles of pee, the paralyzed lab rats were able to shoot pee like how regular rats do.

The study lead Jerry Silver of the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio believes that this is a big deal and it could lead to more in-depth research and experimentation on what this could mean for human beings. Spinal cord injuries happen more than it should and affects our bodies in the way that is a bit similar to a paralyzed rat.

Currently, severely paralyzed humans are unable to urinate and need a catheter to relieve the bladder, and if there is something wrong with the catheter or there are people who don’t have access to basic medical care to be provided with such, it is due to this a lot of the patients suffer from kidney problems.

Years of research have been poured in to develop this treatment that tears down the scar tissue of the damaged nerve bundles and coax it to re-activate.

Scientists Pinpoints Cause for Severe Epilepsies in Children

Genetic scientists and researchers have finally been able to ascertain the root cause of a genetic mutation in humans that causes severe epileptic episodes. In a research of 10 children with epilepsy, with seven of them having undeterminable genetic history and complete diagnosis from conventional testing. Michael Hammer, the head and study leader of the Arizona Research Lab Division of Biotechnology at the University of Arizona, is ecstatic about the 70% success rate of their new approach at genetic testing.

The research done was a breakthrough on its own, as the genetic scientists opted not to perform the genetic testing by sequencing one gene after another, but opted for a different procedure: “whole-exome sequencing”. The difference between the two is that the latter is more efficient and less time-consuming, where conventional testing relied on combing through base pairs of a human genome, which has a 3 billion count; the exome sequencing simultaneously deciphers only actual genes.

The changes that have been identified in the DNA are recognized as the highest likely cause of the epilepsy disorder are the “De Novo” mutations. Scientists are hopeful that this new discovery could help in the progress of Epilepsy research. Though treatment is not automatically extracted from this study, the chances of finding the proper cure for epilepsy will progress more speedily.

A Brainy Project: Developments in Brain Research

One of the last frontiers of mankind is his own brain, and brain research has been endeavoring for decades to be able to research and develop technologies to study brain activity deeply at a far bigger scale and resolution than what’s being done recently. Fortunately for the scientists, President Obama has given a considerable approval to taking brain research a step further in his State of the Union Address last February of this year.

Current scientific tools specifically created for brain research can only monitor a small number of neurons individually and at only a given time. Sometimes the findings or results from these tools are not the most conclusive yet, and this is why scientists are clamoring for new tools to have a real-time brain neuron circuit mapping. The existing tools are invasive and are tough to perform in humans, but the new technologies proposed would be able to measure indirectly through a special indicator. There are also many other proposals that can help capture the workings of the brain faster up to 1,000 times in a second.

The only problem with this is that a lot of the proposals of the project are focused on the tool development process, which can be tasking for the administrative treasury and will require more and more funds to get started on actual testing and experimentation, after funding the tools. Scientists are still hopeful that there will be progress in these projects and proposals.

Mars isn’t as habitable as we think it is

limsat mars terrain habitable

The latest development with the Curiosity rover has determined a lot in terms of Mars’s habitability. Mars, as it is has lost a huge amount of its ancient atmosphere since it was last recorded. On an experiment that entailed analyzing the air contents of the red planet, researchers described the results as the clearest and most robust signature of atmospheric loss to date.

They said that the planet’s atmosphere contained four times as much of a lighter stable isotope (argon-36) compared to the heavier one (argon-38) and could safely say that the air left on Mars is about 1,000 less dense than the atmosphere here on earth. However, the planet still has enough air to generate dust storms as seen by satellite images and trails on the ground.

NASA had little word about the update as federal budget cuts prevented their scientists to make it to the European geoscience meeting in Vienna. They noted however that the planet has long been since red billions of years ago even when it was a wetter and warmer planet.

Curiosity has also recorded a massive rising of temperature during the past eight months since it has landed on Mars. The rover is set to continue on its mission in analyzing various samples from Mars.

Malnutrition Affects Personalities

A recent study has shown that being deprived of food or proper sustenance in one’s infancy may cause negative traits to manifest in a person at the age of 40. The study also showed that this applies even if the first year of life is followed up with a good diet. 77 people who were formerly malnourished were examined and evidence was found to link malnutrition to certain adult personality traits.

malnutritionCompared to other people who were well-fed from childhood through adulthood, men and women who were malnourished are more anxious, vulnerable to stress, hostile, distrusting, angry, and depressed. People who have survived malnutrition at an early age are also reported to be less intellectual curious, socially warm, cooperative, open to new experiences, and hardworking as their peers.

In previously conducted studies, results have shown that people who have experienced famine in their childhood have shown predisposal to certain personality disorders and schizophrenia. Psychiatrist Janina Galler from Harvard Medical School speculates that the link between malnutrition and these specific psychological disorders or abnormalities can be attributed to the damage that has been done to brain growth or activity due to lack of sustenance in developmental years.

Cardiovascular benefits from kicking Smoking

imagesWhile one of the downsides to quitting smoking is inevitable weight gain, one positive outcome is that people who quit the habit also experience fewer heart problems.

Studies have shown that people who kick the habit cut down their chances of getting a heart attack by half. They also reduce the risk of experiencing a stroke and other cardiac problems in comparison to people who continue to smoke.

The study conducted by scientists at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland also examined the data to see if results were applicants to people who have diabetes but results provide to be inconclusive. Further research needs to be conducted.

In the study, heart health data from 3,251 people was analyzed. In the group, current smokers, people who had stopped smoking for quite some time, people who had recently quit, and people who had never smoked were examined. It was found that weight gain was at its peak (at an average of six pounds) in people who had recently quit smoking. Nonetheless, regardless of the amount of weight gain, quitting was found to have significant cardiovascular benefits for people who had quit smoking across the board.

Analyzing first Martian Rock Samples

What may seem to be a simple process of drilling and analyzing a Martian rock is actually taking weeks when you’re commanding a rover in Mars distanced millions of miles away. NASA initially began drilling into Martian rock samples on February 8 where initial observations surprised scientists: the interior of the rocks are actually colored gray which highly suggest that red planet’s color is only skin deep.

curiousity rock sample testing

The Curiosity rover ingested the samples into its mini lab on a 2-day operation during February 22 and 23. The data from the samples have been delivered to NASA and is undergoing further analysis. The mini on board laboratory has 10 instruments to help determine whether Mars is capable of inhabiting life or has ever supported microbial life in the past. A sample test done is by SAM or Sample Analysis of Mars. This involves heating the soil to an extremely high temperature that will enable to release the rock’s elements and compounds into a gas, after which the gas’s components are analyzed as well as finding out the approximate date for when the compounds entered the rock.


The gray colored rock samples may help scientists figure out whether an oxidation process undergoes on the surface of Mars that may be causing it’s reddish color.

Fish and Anti-anxiety drugs

It turns out that the fish in the sea are affected as well when anti-anxiety drugs find their way to them. It is inevitable that concentrations of this are leaked into the oceans and rivers since this is where all our garbage goes. When exposure to anti-anxiety medications reaches the fish, the fish’s actions change. There is more boldness, decreased sociability, and heightened activity. Eating habits were also speedier. This is quite alarming as these actions can make the fish more susceptible to predators. The food chain can also be affected by the faster eating.

It is inevitable that fish ingest anti-anxiety drugs and remnants of other medications as people regularly flush these down the toilet. Excretions are also another way that they can get into the waters. Studies have shown that other drugs such as antidepressants make fish react slower and alter their ability to seek shelter. Survival and ecology are affected by these behaviors. In light of this, waste water treatment plants need to think of ways to filter these compounds. Otherwise, who knows what the effect will be on fish and other organisms. This can also affect humans in the future since we consume fish.

Gene activity shown to be affected by lack of sleep

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A new study has shown that not getting sufficient sleep each night is disruptive to daily rhythms at the biochemical level. If you have not been getting enough sleep each night, you should do some re-evaluating. Research has continually shown that a wealth of health problems have been linked to insufficient sleep. Now science is also showing that gene activity changes in people who continually lack sleep.

An experiment was conducted on volunteers who were allowed eight hours of sleep each night for a week. The following week, the same volunteers were only allowed to sleep for six hours every night. Examinations were conducted and blood tests revealed that gene activity had indeed changed compared to the previous week. The volunteers were also sleepier and more sluggish. All of these findings can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The specific genes that were affected were the ones that govern the immune system. They no longer cycled in a daily pattern. Overall, this is a very negative finding as such a change in the body’s daily rhythm may result in serious health problems.

Asteroid flies by Earth, meteor shower hits Russia

 Millions watched as the largest asteroid recorded in modern history passes by the Earth’s atmosphere about 17,000 miles away from the planet. The asteroid, called 2012 DA14 has been tracked by scientists for several months. The size of the asteroid is about 45 feet across and has been deemed catastrophic if it were to hit Earth. In 1908, an asteroid of a similar size exploded over a remote area in Siberia and as a result, flattened millions of trees over a 820-square mile area. The meteor that wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago is estimated to have been much bigger (6 miles across).

asteroid russia meteor 2013

A meteor also hit Russia’s Chelyabinsk region last Friday causing hundreds of injury and property damage. The meteor exploded in the sky and showered several smaller fragments causing the damages over the region. The energy that resulted from the explosion has been measured to have been similar to 500 kilotons of TNT. Experts predict that there have been a few more impacts around the region causing several locals to search nearby areas for traces of meteorites. While the events suggest that the meteor particle came from the bigger asteroid that flew by Earth, experts say that these two incidents are less likely to be related.

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