The Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect.
Results of Se-Jin Lee’s new study, appearing on August 29 in the online, open-access journal PLoS ONE, show that while mice that lack the gene that makes myostatin have roughly twice the amount of body muscle as normal, mice without myostatin that also overproduce follistatin have about four times as much muscle as normal mice.
Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and genetics, says that this added muscle increase could significantly boost research efforts to “beef up” livestock or promote muscle growth in patients with muscular dystrophy and other wasting diseases.
“To my surprise and delight, there was an additive effect,” said Lee, who notes these muscular mice averaged a 117 percent increase in muscle fiber size and a 73 percent increase in total muscle fibers compared to normal mice.
Friday, August 31, 2007
A 15-year-old Camrose, Alta. girl has become one of the few patients to be taken off an artificial heart device because her own diseased heart healed itself.
"It's changed everything," Melissa Mills told CTV's Canada AM. "I have such a respect for life now."
Mills was sent to Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital last year after a sudden illness affected her heart and a transplant was urgently needed.
Her parents were told to prepare for the possibility that their daughter might not survive.
Doctors at the hospital implanted a Berlin Heart, a mechanical device worn outside the body that keeps blood pumping in a person with a damaged heart. The Stollery is one of a few facilities in Canada to work with the Berlin Hearts, which are the world's first mechanical hearts designed for children.
Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, Montreal's McGill University Health Centre and Sainte-Justine Hospital also work with the artificial heart device.
With that done, Mills then waited for a heart to become available for a transplant. At one point, she was at the top of the North American transplant list.
But over the next few months, her condition improved dramatically. Her own heart regained strength and after 146 days on the Berlin Heart, Melissa underwent surgery to have the device removed.
"For sure it's a miracle," Dr. Holger Buchholz, a heart specialist, said Tuesday.
Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.
In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.
Now, in another report that sounds like it comes out of the pages of a Harry Potter book, the University of St Andrews team has created an 'incredible levitation effects’ by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together.
Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, have worked out a way of reversing this pheneomenon, known as the Casimir force, so that it repels instead of attracts.
Their discovery could ultimately lead to frictionless micro-machines with moving parts that levitate But they say that, in principle at least, the same effect could be used to levitate bigger objects too, even a person.
The Department of Defense is planning to implant microchips in soldiers' brains for monitoring their health information, and has already awarded a $1.6 million contract to the Center for Bioelectronics, Biosensors and Biochips at Clemson University for the development of an implantable "biochip".
Soldiers fear that the biochip, about the size of a grain of rice, which measures and relays information on soldiers vital signs 24 hours a day, can be used to put them under surveillance even when they are off duty.
But Anthony Guiseppi-Elie, C3B director and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Bioengineering claims the that the invivo biosensors will save lives as first responders to the trauma scene could inject the biochip into the wounded victim and gather data almost immediately.
He believes that the device has other long-term potential applications, such as monitoring astronauts’ vital signs during long-duration space flights and reading blood-sugar levels for diabetics.
Sirtris Pharmaceuticals announces that its souped-up version of resveratrol has passed early tests in humans.
What if I told you there was a pill that slows aging and allows you to live a healthy life to age 100?
Such a pill may exist right now. It's being tested in people in very early-stage human clinical trials. Today, the company making the pill, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, announced its findings from preclinical testing in cells and animals, and also from tests conducted on 85 male volunteers this summer.
The verdict: so far, the pill works, although it will be years before we know how well it works, or if it can actually extend the life span of people in the same way that it has bumped up the life span of mice.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Scientists in Spain have achieved a giant leap for robotkind by building the first artificial cerebellum to help them interact with humans. The cerebellum is the portion of the brain that controls motor functions.
The project will now implant the man-made cerebellum into a robot so as to make its movements and interaction with humans more natural. The overall goal is to incorporate the cerebellum into a robot designed by the German Aerospace Centre in two year's time. The researchers hope that their work will also result in clues on how to treat cognitive diseases such as Parkinson's.
The scientists at the University of Granada are focusing on the design of microchips that incorporate a full neuronal system, emulating the way the cerebellum interacts with the human nervous system.
Implanting the man-made cerebellum in a robot will allow it to manipulate and interact with other objects with far greater effectiveness than previously managed.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Thursday, August 30, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The outlook for solar, though, is getting much brighter. A few dozen companies say advances in technology will let them halve the price of solar-panel installations in as little as three years. By 2014, solar-system prices will be competitive with conventional electricity when energy savings are figured in, Deutsche Bank says. And that's without government incentives.
Like wind power, solar energy is spotty, working at full capacity an average 20% to 30% of the time. Solar's big advantage is that it supplies the most electricity midday, when demand peaks. And it can be located at homes and businesses, reducing the need to build pollution-belching power plants and unsightly transmission lines.
In states such as California, with high electricity prices and government incentives, solar is already a bargain for some customers. Wal-Mart recently said it's putting solar panels on more than 20 of its stores in California and Hawaii. Google is blanketing its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters with 9,212 solar panels, enough to light 1,000 homes.
The solar industry is expected to triple in the next three years, from about $13 billion to $40 billion in revenue, says analyst Jesse Pichel of Piper Jaffray.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
This summer the team hit a critical milestone when it finished Proto 2, a thought-controlled mechanical arm—complete with hand and articulated fingers—that can perform 25 joint motions. This dexterity approaches that of a native arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. A person wearing a Proto 2 could conceivably play the piano.
How long before we voluntarily have our limbs amputated to replace them with superior technology?
Also see The Future Of Mind Control.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Below a documentary of Aubrey de Grey, the man who's going to make humans immortal.
Not everybody can mentally 'take' the idea of living forever.
That's why Aubrey has opponents.
(mainly old people who won't live long enough to see it)
They attack him with meaningful and well thought-out arguments that really address the actual content of Aubrey's ideas, such as:
- Aubrey is an angry individual
- Aubrey has only 3 laboratories doing his research
- Aubrey is very naïve and can't possibly contribute to biology because he's originally a computer scientist
- Aubrey doesn't have any children so he wants to attain immortality himself through science
You think I'm making this shit up?
Enjoy the video.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Saturday, August 25, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The majority of cells in the human brain are not nerve cells but star-shaped glia cells, the so called “astroglia”. “Glia means “glue”, explains Götz. “As befits their name, until now these cells have been regarded merely as a kind of “putty” keeping the nerve cells together.
A couple of years ago, the research group had been already able to prove that these glia cells function as stem cells during development. This means that they are able to differentiate into functional nerve cells. However, this ability gets lost in later phases of development, so that even after an injury to the adult brain glial cells are unable to generate any more nerve cells.
In order to be able to reverse this development, the team studied what molecular switches are essential for the creation of nerve cells from glial cells during development. These regulator proteins are introduced into glial cells from the postnatal brain, which indeed respond by switching on the expression of neuronal proteins.
In his current work, Dr. Benedikt Berninger, was now able to show that single regulator proteins are quite sufficient to generate new functional nerve cells from glia cells. The transition from glia-to-neuron could be followed live at a time-lapse microscope. It was shown that glia cells need some days for the reprogramming until they take the normal shape of a nerve cell. “These new nerve cells then have also the typical electrical properties of normal nerve cells”, emphasises Berninger. “We could show this by means of electrical recordings”.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Tuesday, August 21, 2007
SCIENTISTS believe they have discovered a “cure” for Alzheimer’s, the devastating illness that affects nearly 600,000 people in the UK.
For years experts have been looking for a way of preventing the debilitating brain condition.
Now British and American scientists have found a way of halting its spread.
Last night the discovery was being hailed by experts as a huge development in the fight against the condition – as the number of victims is likely to double over the next decade.
One of the researchers described the breakthrough as “blindingly simple”.
Alzheimer’s is caused when amyloid – a chemical that naturally occurs in the bloodstream – passes into the brain.
Once there it forms plaques that harden. These damage communication between brain cells and eventually cause brain cell death.
Scientists have discovered a synthetic human protein that is capable of soaking up amyloid – preventing it leaking into the brain.
Researchers say trials will start within two years.
Patients will be screened for the disease by a blood test that reveals if they have high levels of amyloid.
Professor Berislav Zlokovic, of Rochester University in the US, who is behind the new study, said: “Stop over-production of amyloid and you effectively cure Alzheimer’s disease. It’s very simple.”
He said lab experiments had been so successful that he and his team were “convinced it will work in humans”.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer.
Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of "wet artificial life."
"It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways—in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."
That first cell of synthetic life—made from the basic chemicals in DNA—may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it.
"Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."
And several scientists believe man-made life forms will one day offer the potential for solving a variety of problems, from fighting diseases to locking up greenhouse gases to eating toxic waste.
The TILE64™ family of multicore processors delivers immense compute performance to drive the latest generation of embedded applications. This revolutionary processor features 64 identical processor cores (tiles) interconnected with Tilera's iMesh™ on-chip network. Each tile is a complete full-featured processor, including integrated L1 & L2 cache and a non-blocking switch that connects the tile into the mesh. This means that each tile can independently run a full operating system, or multiple tiles taken together can run a multi-processing operating system like SMP Linux.
The TILE64™ processor family slashes board real estate and system cost by integrating a complete set of memory and I/O controllers, thus eliminating the need for an external North Bridge or South Bridge. It delivers scalable performance, power efficiency and low processing latency in an extremely compact footprint.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Monday, August 20, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
For the first time, scientists have completely transformed a species of bacteria into another species by transplanting its complete set of DNA. The achievement marks a significant step toward the construction of synthetic life, with applications including the production of clean fuel in as little as a decade.
Scientists Carole Lartigue and colleagues from the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, have published their results in a recent issue of Science. In addition to being a proof-of-concept experiment, the researchers hope that genome transplantation will enable the production of synthetic microbes for green energy sources, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and textiles.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Friday, August 17, 2007
David Sinclair is very good at persuading people. The catch, says a longtime colleague and scientific rival, is that he is sometimes overly optimistic about his results. "David is brilliant, but sometimes he is too passionate and impatient for a scientist," says another colleague. "So far, he is fortunate that his claims have turned out to be mostly true."
Sinclair's basic claim is simple, if seemingly improbable: he has found an elixir of youth. In his Australian drawl, the 38-year-old Harvard University professor of pathology explains how he discovered that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, extends life span in mice by up to 24 percent and in other animals, including flies and worms, by as much as 59 percent. Sinclair hopes that resveratrol will bump up the life span of people, too. "The system at work in the mice and other organisms is evolutionarily very old, so I suspect that what works in mice will work in humans," he says.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Physicists in Netherlands and Japan are the first to flip the value of a magnetic memory bit by firing a very short pulse of circularly-polarized laser light at it. Unlike other magneto-optic data storage systems, no external magnetic field was required to flip the bit, which meant that its value could be changed about 50 thousand times faster than the fastest conventional memory. The result could lead to the development of low-cost and ultrafast all-optical magnetic hard disk drives.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Thursday, August 09, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
SCIENTISTS have jump-started the consciousness of a man with severe brain injury in a world-first procedure in which electrodes were inserted deep into his brain.
The 38-year-old, who had been in a minimally conscious state for six years after an assault, could only move his fingers or eyes occasionally and was fed through a tube.
Now he can chew, swallow and carry out movements like brushing his hair and drinking from a cup, say the US neuroscientists who carried out the procedure, known as deep brain stimulation.
Posted by Jan-Willem Bats on Thursday, August 02, 2007