Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Taking a look inside with Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary and engineering researches at the University of Saskatchewan have come together to create an imagining technology to further understand the unknown of the gut of a horse. A veterinary researcher Dr. Julia Montgomery, equine surgeon Dr. Joe Bracamonte and specialist in health informatics and imaging Khan Wahid teamed up and created and tested an endoscopy  capsule, the size of a typical vitamin, to view the inside of a horse.

Before this research there were no other ways to view the small intestine besides exploratory surgery or a laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is a small tube with a light that gets inserted through an incision. Neither of these options gives the view from inside of the intestine. 

This new capsule is a powerful innovation that can be used to diagnose diseases such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and to check surgical sites. This can determine and prove what is normal of the small intestine.

This capsule is not new in the technology with humans but is very new to the equine health world. The capsule is inserted through a stomach tube into the horses stomach. The capsule then sits in the stomach for eight hours streaming a constant picture. 
With new technology we can make major advances in equine medicine and help many horses. 

-Emily Mueller (Group 2) 

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

            Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most leading known preventable cause of development and physical birth defects in the United States.  Each year in the United States, one in every seven hundred and fifty infants are born with F.A.S.
Some physical defects these children are born with are low birth weight, small head circumference, smaller eye openings, and flattened cheekbones.  These features stay with the child for the rest of their life.  In fact, the child’s mental defects intensify as the child grows into an adult.  These mental problems such as health problems, troubles with the law and being independent, poor memory, development delay, behavioral problems and poor motor skills, all exponentially tend to get worse as the child grows.
            It is well known for a pregnant woman not to consume too much alcohol when carrying a baby, but how does one know how much is too much?  Unfortunately, there is no evidence that can determine how much alcohol can be taken in throughout the whole nine months.  The reason for that is all women process alcohol differently, depending on age, if she had anything to eat or how often they drink.
            Drinking during the first trimester has the worst effects on the child’s development growth and is more likely to develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  This is because the brain in the fetus is just starting to develop and with alcohol is present it makes it more difficult for everything to go smoothly. But overall, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in infants is a very preventable disorder.  It is always a healthy and smart decision to stay away from alcohol when pregnant and to get tested for the disease as well so the child can get as much help as needed in the earlier stages.

Stephanie Aboody


HIV is a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) that has been an epidemic in many parts of the world. Countless of individuals have suffered from this deadly virus, with no hope of a cure. People have been fighting against the inevitable by prolonging their lives with treatments.

Despite how awful HIV is, scientists have made a revolutionary discovery on how to use the HIV virus to fight cancer Scientist were able to figure out how to use a disabled version of HIV cells to reprogram the individual’s immune system to target cancer cells in their body. The way it works is by removing millions of T-cells from the patient who has cancer and using the HIV to transmit genetic materials into the T-cells. Once the materials is put into the T-cells, it is then pumped back into the patient’s body which then automatically targets the cancer cells. This treatment however is still in the beginning stages and thus imperfect. The drawback is that it doesn’t only target cancer cell, but also healthy B-cells, nevertheless with enough time, patients, and research funds, this treatment can potentially save millions of lives.

 David Mota (2)

The Risks of Being Vegan

In today’s world we are seeing more and more people a risk of heart disease, obesity, and cancer, especially in the United States where the leading cause of death is heart disease with about 611,105 deaths each year. The Obama Administration has acknowledged the terrible fate of our nation’s health problem, and has helped alleviate some concerns by tackling the issue of child obesity in America. Many people believe that our poor health is a result of the amount of meat the average American consumes, and/or the quality of our food in general. Recent developments have now given us reason to believe that strict vegetarian diets are changing the human genome, individually increasing the risk of heart disease and colon cancer (Oxford University Press).

The belief that vegetarian diets are a healthier alternative is a common misconception among Americans. Using data from the 1000 Genomes Project, researchers have found a mutation associated with vegetarian diets all around the world, but higher frequencies of this deleterious mutation “rs66698963” was found in the Indian population. This likely because the traditional Indian diet primarily consists of legumes such as beans and lentils, dairy products, as well as other fruits and vegetables. This mutation is believed to be making insertions and/or deletions in genes that are responsible for making long chain polyunsaturated fats.

 This mutation is favored in populations that are heavily vegetarian based and don’t have access to healthy dietary fats such as the ones found in fish. Without the essential fatty acids in their diet, their bodies have no choice but to produce these polyunsaturated fats themselves from the plants they consume, giving rise to more arachidonic acid. Pharmaceuticals commonly associate heart disease, colon cancer, and other inflammation related diseases with this acid. Further research of the “rs66698963” mutation may help develop medicine specific for patients depending on how many insertions or deletions there are in the particular genes of interest.


Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "Are we what we eat? Evidence of vegetarian diet permanently shaping human genome to change individual risk of cancer, heart disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2016. 

-Mahder Haile

Nanobot Repairs: Small solutions to Big Problems

The nanoscience industry is moving forwards faster than ever, as new technological advances allow researchers to study the effects of various nanoparticles more closely. Recently, a group of researchers from University of Pittsburgh and University of California, San Diego discovered a new use for autonomous nanobots by taking a hint from microbiology.
Nanobots are so small that they cannot be individually controlled by lines of code or any sort of AI, so they must be made from materials that exploit the laws of particle physics to accomplish their goals. Designing nanobots to be fully autonomous is a huge challenge because they have to perfectly pair structure and function. Their function has to be limited by the laws of the physical environment in which they are used, and their structure must be limited by their stability within that environment. The researchers were able to successfully repair an electrical circuit using the nanobots they designed.
The nanobots created by these researchers are made of gold and platinum bound together in a Janus particle, which are spherical nanoparticles that have two or more distinct physical properties based on the elements of their construction. In a Hydrogen Peroxide solution, the platinum side acts as a catalyst to the release of oxygen, and the reaction is so rapid that it acts as the propulsion for the nanobot. While the platinum side acts as a “nanomotor”, the gold side is able to patch energetic wells and obstacles like surface cracks that otherwise disrupt the flow of electrons. Any damage to the physical structure of the circuit was discovered by the nanobots because the propulsion system is altered at these sites to induce particle localization. These autonomous particles successfully repaired a scratched, non-functioning electrical circuit all on their own.
The design for the nanobots was inspired by the ability of platelets in blood to localize at a damaged site in order to “patch” the break. Nanobots driven by chemical energy are a proof of concept design that sheds light on the possibilities of autonomous reparative nanobot designs in the future, and suggests applications in a wide range of fields.

- Josef Mazzuchi (group 2)

Smart Ant

    Ants are found almost all over the world. I have no problem with them, until I see one in my house.. Anyways, they have such an important part in the environment. They spread seeds and any remains they leave behind become deposits in the soil. They can even lift objects way, way larger and heavier than themselves. Ants have always baffled scientists due to their ability to communicate as individuals, and solve complex problems. Ants even have a clear class system. To us any form of intelligent life on our planet is interesting because we as humans outclass every organism on the planet.
    Recently a team of scientists in Melbourne have discovered something really cool about ants, and it has to do with their antennae. Up until recently most scientists agreed the antenna was a vital organ of the ant. Allowing it to pick up stimuli and sense its surrounding. It has been found out however that ants actually can send signals out of their antennae to other ants too.
    The scientists discovered this through the study of cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). These are carbons that cover many insects like ants, bees, and flies. It protects insects from dehydration and helps with communication. Ants use these chemicals and their antennae to sense if the other insect is friend or foe. By taking away the CHCs from the antennae of one ant and putting it back in with the others, the scientists of Melbourne were able to watch as all the Ants failed to identify its colony of origin.
     Ants can two way identify with one another on a small scale. I don't know if my mind is the only one that's blown. It just seems wicked crazy to me that insects can have such a level of communication. I guess we always knew they could communicate effectively, but not how. They really are some smart ants.


Posted by: Nick Michienzi

Monday, March 28, 2016

Austrailian Doctor was able to Successfully Preform the First Ever 3D Printed Spinal Implant Surgery

       Dr. Ralph Mobbs, a Neurosurgeon at the Neuro Spine Clinic at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Australia, was able to preform the first-ever spinal transplant using 3-D printed titanium vertebra in the transplant during a 15-hour long surgery.  His 60 year-old patient suffered from a severe form of cancer known as Chordoma that resided in two tumors that inhabited the two vertebrae that are involved with rotation of the head. Since the tumors are located so high up on the spine, if left untreated, the tumors would eventually grow to compress the brain stem and spinal chord, which would cause quadriplegia. Due to the high risk that comes with the surgery to remove these tumors means it often goes un-treated, until now… Normally in this surgery doctors would try to reconstruct the vertebrae using bone from another place in the body, but according to Dr. Mobbs it can be very difficult to get a good fit; hence why the surgery is not a popular one.
Dr. Mobbs says 3D printing allows him and many other doctors to customize body parts for specific patients, allowing them to achieve that perfect fit that’s crucial for success. To make the vertebrae implants for this patient, Dr. Mobbs worked with an Australian medical device company named Anatomics. Along with the vertebrae implants, the company also printed the doctor a bunch of models of the patient's exact anatomy so he was able to practice the surgery a few times before walking into the operating room, lowering the risks of this high risk surgery even more than one thought was possible, an amazing accomplishment in the medical field!
In this article Dr, Mobbs said, "There's no doubt this is the next big wave of medicine. For me, the holy grail of medicine is the manufacturing of bones, joints and organs on-demand to restore function and save lives." For Mobbs next step forward in this medical advancement, he wants to be able to harvest and use cells from the patient’s body onto a 3D scaffold in order to grow fully customized implants, instead of using titanium implants! This technique could be increasingly useful for organ transplants and the like- eliminating the waiting game that comes with needing an organ transplant.


-Kelsey Morrison (2)

3-D Printed Body Parts in Our Future

Have you ever wondered if one day it will be possible to create synthetic organs or body parts? Seems like a far-fetched idea, but not anymore due to the regenerative medicine research conducted at Wake Forest University with 3-D printers. You may be curious as to why no one has thought to do this given that 3-D printers have been around for some time now. The problem was that the technology associated with 3-D printing was not as advanced as it is now and there were limitations on what they could create because they were unable to print blood vessels to keep the structures alive.

In order to produce viable printed organs the researchers had to figure out how get them to be less fragile, and more stable so they could be successfully transplanted into a mouse. At Wake Forest University, the scientists were able to develop a biologically compatible matrix embedded with microchannels that O2 and nutrients can freely flow through to reach certain structures in the cells. These microchannels are like a bio sponge and are made from a biodegradable material. They then get infused with a gel containing the living cells.

These cells were then allowed to develop and grow and then were implanted in an animal. Eventually, the biological matrix biodegraded and the cells were left in the desired shape. The results of the Wake Forest experimentation was that after two months the implanted organs in the mice had kept their shape and were viable. Nerve formation occurred due to muscle formation and bone implants triggered blood vessel formation over the course of five months.

The results of this study are very interesting an I am curious to see where this research goes in the future. With the success of this i'm sure that experimentation will begin on humans and eventually could lead to full limb or facial feature 3-D printed prosthetics.

Ashley Geary (1)

Microbe-Powered Nightlights

Increasing electricity consumption has proved to be a problem as the use of electricity creates a need for fuel that affects the environment in devastating way.  A company named Glowee in Paris, France is working to reduce the electricity consumption.  The company is developing a way to brighten cities at night using glow-in-the-dark bacteria instead of electric light bulbs.  Glowee developed lights made of small, see through cases that contain a type of non-harmful marine microbe known as Alivibrio fischeri.  This microbe is normally found living inside light-emitting organs on the skin of an underwater species called the Hawaiian bobtail squid. 

The light cases contain a nutrient-rich gel for the microbes to feed on, and they are now able to stay lit for three days at a time.  Currently the company is working to keep the lights on for a month or longer.  The company’s goal is to try to reduce the 19 percent of electricity consumption used to produce light as well as reduce the light pollution from the light of human-made sources that obscures objects in the night sky and which can affect animals’ natural cycles.  Although the lights are not very bright yet and are not able to stay on for too long, the company is still working on the product, and hopes to illuminate sidewalks, storefronts, and signs all by 2017.         

Abbasi, Jennifer. "Microbe-Powered Nightlights". N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

Yustina Kang (Group 2)