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Radhika Gupta verified badge
Electronics Engineer | Editor at The Surg
January 14, 2018 · 212 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Researchers for the first time have created cells that give us our sense of touch

Researchers have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons — the cells that give us our sense of touch. The new protocol could be a step toward stem cell-based therapies to restore sensation in paralyzed people who have lost feeling in parts of their body.

Reference: Stem Cell Reports


Scientists curb growth of cancer cells by blocking access to key nutrients

Salk researchers have discovered how to curb the growth of cancer cells by blocking the cells’ access to certain nutrients.The approach, took advantage of knowledge on how healthy cells use a 24-hour cycle to regulate the production of nutrients and was tested on glioblastoma brain tumors in mice.

Reference: Nature

Scientists have mapped the gene regulation by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells

Researchers have developed the first map of gene regulation in human neurogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells turn into brain cells and the cerebral cortex expands in size. The scientists identified factors that govern the growth of our brains and, in some cases, set the stage for several brain disorders that appear later in life.

Reference: Cell

Scientists created robotic implants that can spur tissue regeneration inside the body

An implanted, programmable medical robot can gradually lengthen tubular organs by applying traction forces — stimulating tissue growth in stunted organs without interfering with organ function or causing apparent discomfort, report researchers.

Reference: Science Robotics

New reports suggest, Immunotherapy to be highly effective in treatment of a rare skin cancer

More than two-thirds of people with a rare type of melanoma responded positively to treatment with anti-PD-1 immunotherapies. The findings counter the conventional wisdom that a cancer which is highly fibrotic with dense stroma could not respond to immunotherapy, and have the potential to help scientists identify those patients most likely to benefit from treatment.

Reference: Nature

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improved heart attack recovery

Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery from heart attack injury. The results are a step closer to the goal of treating human heart attacks by suturing cardiac-muscle patches over an area of dead heart muscle in order to reduce the pathology that often leads to heart failure.

Reference: Circulation

New research identified a new drug target (SNRK) in the battle against obesity

A study led by Brown University researchers has identified an enzyme that appears the regulate the physiology of both fat types in mice — decreasing inflammation in white fat tissue, while promoting the ability of brown fat to burn calories. Preliminary genetic evidence included in the study suggests that the enzyme, called SNRK, performs similar functions in humans, making it an intriguing new drug target in the battle against obesity and its complications.

Reference: Diabetes

Supercooled water at record low temperatures acts like two liquids at once

Scientists have reached a new low in the cooling of liquid water, hitting -45 degrees Celsius (-49 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s way below the usual freezing point, and shows we still have a lot to learn about the physics of this plentiful substance. In two separate experiments, water was supercooled right down to 230 Kelvin and 227.7 Kelvin, which is -43.15°C (-45.67°F) and -45.45°C (-49.81°F), respectively.

Reference: Physical Review Letters

‘Decorating’ cardiac stem cells with platelet nanovesicles could offer targeted heart repair

‘Decorating’ cardiac stem cells with platelet nanovesicles can increase the stem cells’ ability to find and remain at the site of heart attack injury and enhance their effectiveness in treatment. Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury — and getting them to stay there — remains challenging.

Reference: Nature Biomedical Engineering

Researchers developed a capsule that can deliver a week’s worth of HIV drugs in a single dose

The new capsule is designed so that patients can take it just once a week, and the drug will release gradually throughout the week. This type of delivery system could not only improve patients’ adherence to their treatment schedule but also be used by people at risk of HIV exposure to help prevent them from becoming infected, the researchers say.

Reference: Nature Communications

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