Autistic Kids Have Extra Brain Synapses

Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is because of a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia Univ. Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study was published in Neuron.

A drug that restores normal synaptic pruning can improve autistic-like behaviors in mice, the researchers found, even when the drug is given after the behaviors have appeared.

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3-D Printers Produce Custom Medical Implants

A team of researchers at Louisiana Tech Univ. has developed an innovative method for using affordable, consumer-grade 3-D printers and materials to fabricate custom medical implants that can contain antibacterial and chemotherapeutic compounds for targeted drug delivery.

The team comprised of doctoral students and research faculty from Louisiana Tech’s biomedical engineering and nanosystems engineering programs collaborated to create filament extruders that can make medical-quality 3-D printing filaments. Creating these filaments, which have specialized properties for drug delivery, is a new concept that can result in smart drug delivering medical implants or catheters.

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Laser May Remove Pin Pricks from Diabetics’ Lives

Princeton Univ. researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people’s blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood.

"We are working hard to turn engineering solutions into useful tools for people to use in their daily lives," said Claire Gmachl, professor of electrical engineering and the project’s senior researcher. "With this work we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring."

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Wound-healing Compound is a Success

Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute scientist Robert Gourdie developed a wound-healing peptide while researching how electrical signals trigger heartbeats. He never imagined that the peptide, ACT1, would prove to heal venous leg ulcers twice as quickly as the current standard of care.

The results of this phase 2, multicenter, randomized clinical trial, conducted by FirstString Research Inc., were recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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Doctors and nurses stage sit-in protest against hospital violence

Over two hundred medical staff from the Second People’s Hospital of Yueyang City in China’s Hunan Province held a sit-in in front of the hospital’s main building to protest against yet another case of assault towards China’s doctors.

According to the Shanghai website, a man with a severe knife wound was sent to the hospital on August 20th but died in ICU Wednesday afternoon. 

After hearing of the death, relatives of the patient abducted a doctor involved with the case and tried to force him to kneel in front of the patient’s body.

 Relatives even smashed the hospital’s facilities and blocked the emergency department and the outpatient building, which led to the suspension of the hospital’s normal work for eight hours. Over 100 local police ultimately arrived at the scene and set up a special group to investigate the case.

Local health bureau chief Huang Jianjun said that the legal right of medical staff should be preserved.

The news also stirred up intense debate online.

“I support the medical staff. They deserve respect. If doctors can’t even ensure their own safety, how can they rescue others? ” Weibo user @Cakemillk said.

Another netizen named @Mengxiaojiangjinjie expressed the opposite view, “Could the public hospital suspend business for a while?  The emergency department should make the lives of patients its priority. If you want people to respect you, you should respect others as well”.

Others too tried to see both sides.

“Hospitals are social public institutions; their function is to serve the public well. We can’t mix up medical disturbances and the safety of patients. On the one hand, we should condemn the medical disturbance; on the other hand, hospitals should improve the service level and strengthen their social responsibility. If a hospital has a qualified medical level, efficient capacity and broad communication channels, physician-patient social contradictions will reduce substantially,” a Weibo user named @Shanchimumeishuiwangliang said.

Facial Symmetry Isn’t Linked to Health

Beauty, it is said, is in the eye of the beholder. And yet, there are many faces that a majority would find beautiful, say, George Clooney’s or Audrey Hepburn’s.

Psychologists interested in mate selection and the visual processing of faces have long sought to understand why some faces are widely regarded as attractive. Researchers have identified several cues associated with facial beauty, including “averageness” – faces close to the population mean are judged attractive – and “sexual dimorphism” – faces that accentuate characteristics that distinguish males and females are desirable.

There has also been long-standing interest in facial symmetry. Most faces appear broadly symmetric. Close inspection, however, almost always reveals subtle deviations from perfect symmetry. It is common for one eye to be positioned slightly above the other, or further away from the mid-line, and features are rarely perfectly symmetric in shape. Having examined the relationship between degree of facial symmetry and perceived attractiveness, many studies have found that beautiful faces exhibit greater symmetry.

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Co’mon Tumbler Lets Spark Up For Freedom from Coast To Coast.

I’m sitting in the optometrist office, trying not to scream. I came in for a routine check and have been kept back for tests.

My left cornea has disintegrated. I had been noticing double vision. A little more strain, a little pain, but nothing major, because I’ve been predominantly seeing out of my right eye for over a year now, once the graft took. While I wasn’t using it, my left has, in technical terms, fucking carked it.

I’m going to need a new graft. I cannot afford it. I cannot afford the time off work required for the months of light sensitivity and refocusing work. But in the interim, even with my right eye doing most of the work, there is going to be more pain. More headaches. My night vision will go from bad to dangerous. Things that give off light will start haloing. Screens will get harder. The stupid cornea will be more likely to rupture. (That’s about as bad as it sounds.)

And I am bloody upset.

Combinations of Vaccines Best to Fight Polio

New research suggests a one-two punch could help battle polio in some of the world’s most remote and strife-torn regions. Giving a single vaccine shot to children who’ve already swallowed drops of an oral polio vaccine greatly boosted their immunity.

The World Health Organization officials said the combination strategy already is starting to be used in mass vaccination campaigns in some hard-hit areas and is being introduced for routine immunizations in developing countries, too.

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