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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg
August 13, 2017 · 533 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Scientists have made flexible implantable batteries that run on body friendly liquids

Scientists have developed a thin flexible battery suited to implantable devices that does away with dangerous chemicals and replaces them with biologically compatible liquids. The bendy batteries use sodium-based liquids – one a saline solution and another using cell cultures – and this innovation could change how we power wearable devices and even medical implants.

Reference: Chem

New study suggests that vitamin B3 supplements may prevent miscarriages

A simple vitamin supplement could have the potential to prevent miscarriages and birth defects, according to a 12-year study by scientists in Australia. Researchers have identified a deficiency in a developmental molecule called NAD that can keep a baby’s organs from forming properly in the womb – but the shortfall could be addressed by pregnant women taking vitamin B3, which may prevent a range of birth defects.

Reference: The New England Journal of Medicine

Scientists move closer to using pig organs for humans after removing threatening viruses from pigs’ DNA

Scientists have cleared a major barrier to transplanting organs from pigs into humans after removing threatening viruses from the animals’ DNA. The new research opens the possibility of breeding animals to harvest their organs to meet the demand for new tissue. Some challenges, including major ethical objections remain, but experts said the breakthrough is a significant step towards pig-to-man transplants, also known as xenotransplantation.

Reference: Science

Scientists have designed a nanochip device that can heal the tissue just by touching the skin once

Imagine buzzing the skin over an internal wound with an electrical device and having it heal over just a few days – that’s the promise of new nanochip technology that can reprogram cells to replace tissue or even whole organs. It’s called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), and while it’s only been tested on mice and pigs so far, the early signs are encouraging for this new body repair tool – and it sounds like a device straight out of science-fiction. The prototype device sits on the skin and uses an intense electrical field to deliver specific genes to the tissue underneath it. Those genes create new types of cells that can be used nearby or elsewhere in the body.

Reference: Nature Nanotechnology

New evidence revealed that our nearest sun-like star has 2 planets that might be habitable

New evidence has revealed that the closest Sun-like star outside our solar system is orbited by four approximately Earth-sized exoplanets, and researchers think that two of these worlds might be habitable. Tau Ceti is located just 12 light-years away from you and me, and it’s nearness and brightness has long made it a mainstay in sci-fi and video games – but now it looks like the star’s potential to support alien life may not just be the stuff of fantasy.

Reference: The Astrophysical Journal

Alzheimer’s patients could recover lost memories, new study suggests

An enzyme that interferes with key memory-forming processes in people with Alzheimer’s can now be specifically targeted thanks to the discovery of a protein that helps it do its dirty work, according to new research out of MIT. This crucial finding is getting us one step closer to a new kind of treatment that could one day prevent and even reverse memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological condition associated with the build-up of beta-amyloid and tau proteins in the brain’s cells.

Reference: Cell Reports

Researchers created hydrogen from water and aluminium, making it a viable fuel source

This is an unusual reaction – typically, aluminium exposed to water oxidises, creating a protective barrier to prevent further reactions from occurring. In this case, though, the hydrogen-producing reaction just kept going, signaling the possibility of a portable, affordable source of hydrogen for fuel cells and other energy applications. This would make hydrogen fuel cells much easier to use since there would be no need to pressurise and transport hydrogen gas for use. Instead, simple, stable tanks of water and pieces of aluminium would be all you’d need.

Reference: Journal of Power Sources

Scientists discovered a new version of DNA editing system that corrects defects in RNA based diseases

In a new study, published August 10 in Cell, the team takes RCas9 a step further: they use the technique to correct molecular mistakes that lead to microsatellite repeat expansion diseases, which include myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2, the most common form of hereditary ALS, and Huntington’s disease. While DNA is like the architect’s blueprint for a cell, RNA is the engineer’s interpretation of the blueprint. In the central dogma of life, genes encoded in DNA in the nucleus are transcribed into RNA and RNAs carry the message out into the cytoplasm, where they are translated to make proteins.

Reference: Cell

New research shows that sleep disorders during pregnancy increase the risk of premature births

New research shows sleep disorders in women, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, increase the risk of giving birth before reaching full term, findings that could give doctors early warning of premature births. It could also give medical teams a chance to minimise the risk of preterm births if these sleep disorders can be effectively managed during pregnancy.

Reference: Obstetrics & Gynecology

Our brain can actually form new memories while we sleep

Sleep and memory are deeply related, but the nature of the neuroplastic processes induced by sleep remains unclear. Here, scientists report that memory traces can be both formed or suppressed during sleep, depending on sleep phase. Researchers played samples of acoustic noise to sleeping human listeners. Repeated exposure to a novel noise during Rapid Eye Movements (REM) or light non-REM (NREM) sleep leads to improvements in behavioral performance upon awakening. Strikingly, the same exposure during deep NREM sleep leads to impaired performance upon awakening.

Reference: Nature Communications

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Thanks for sharing @radhika

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