Japanese mutant chickens are laying eggs with cancer-fighting drugs

October 9, 2017 by  
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Most people eat chicken eggs for their high protein content and healthy fats – but in the future eggs could ward off diseases, such as cancer and hepatitis. That’s because researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have genetically engineered chickens to lay eggs that contain drugs capable of boosting the immune system. The controversial technique was developed to make pharmaceutical drugs more affordable and, as a result, more accessible. The researchers used gene editing technology to make chickens produce “interferon beta.” This protein is a “powerful tool” for treating skin cancer and hepatitis, reports Phys.org . The team produced cells that were used to fertilize eggs and breed hens that inherited the genes. A few rounds of cross-breeding yielded chickens capable of laying eggs containing the disease-fighting drugs. As soon as next year, a joint research company will sell the drug to pharmaceutical companies so they can perform research on it at a reduced cost. “This is a result that we hope leads to the development of cheap drugs,” said Professor Hironobu Hojo, from Osaka . “In the future, it will be necessary to closely examine the characteristics of the agents contained in the eggs and determine their safety as pharmaceutical products.” If the scientists are able to safely produce interferon beta, the price of the price of the drug (currently up to $888 for a few micrograms) is expected to fall significantly. According to The Japan News , the eventual goal is to lower the cost of the drug to 10 percent of its current price. Related: Scientists develop tiny robots that drill into cancer cells to kill them At present, three females are presently laying eggs every one or two days. It will be a while before the eggs are on the market, as Japan has strict regulation concerning the “introduction of new and foreign pharmaceutical products,” reports Phys.org . Sometimes, screening processes take years to complete. Considering the long-term effects of consuming genetically-modified foods are relatively unknown, extensive testing will be needed. Via Phys , The Japan News Images via Pixabay , Cosmo Bio Co.

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Japanese mutant chickens are laying eggs with cancer-fighting drugs

Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites

August 25, 2017 by  
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The Donald Trump administration seems to be plugging its ears against the mention of any health risks of residing near coal mines. His Department of the Interior (DOI) recently shut down a study on potential health impacts for such people in Central Appalachia, reportedly citing a changing budget. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign representative Bill Price told The Washington Post, “It’s infuriating that Trump would halt this study…that people in Appalachia have been demanding for years.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine were conducting a study on health risks for people living near surface coal mining sites when they were told to stop by the DOI as the agency reviewed projects needing more than $100,000. The National Academies was still allowed to hold scheduled meetings in Kentucky earlier this week. But they’ve been told to cease all other work on the project. Related: Montana judge stops massive coal mine expansion, citing climate impact Central Appalachia coal mining sometimes employs mountaintop removal , a practice scientists say is particularly destructive . Price told The Washington Post, “Everyone knows there are major health risks living near mountaintop removal coal mining sites, but communities living with daily health threats were counting on finally getting the full story from the professionals at the National Academies of Science.” The National Mining Association seemed to stand behind the Trump administration’s move, pointing to an analysis from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences examining multiple reports which said the studies usually didn’t account for lifestyle and extraneous health effects. The association also pointed to a United States Energy Information Administration analysis saying mountaintop mining only comprises under one percent of coal production and a study of health impacts may be unnecessary. The National Academies said they believe the study is important and they stand ready to continue the work, hoping they’ll be allowed to continue. But they don’t know the end date of the DOI’s review. Via The Washington Post Lead image via Pixabay , others via iLoveMountains.org on Flickr and Pixabay

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Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites

3D-printed ovaries let infertile mice give birth

May 18, 2017 by  
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Three-dimensionally printed organs are pretty old hat by now. But while the technology has been applied to everything from artificial ears to replacement brain tissue , working ovaries have been outside the realm of possibility—until now, that is. Scientists from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and McCormick School of Engineering have developed “bioprosthetic” ovary structures that allowed infertile mice to not only ovulate but also birth and nurse healthy offspring, according to a paper published this week in the journal Nature Communications . Composed of rapid-prototyped gelatin scaffolds, and primed with immature eggs, the bioprosthetic ovaries successfully boosted the hormone production necessary for restoring fertility in the mice, researchers said. “This research shows these bioprosthetic ovaries have long-term, durable function,” Teresa K. Woodruff, a reproductive scientist and director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at Feinberg, said in a statement. “Using bioengineering, instead of transplanting from a cadaver, to create organ structures that function and restore the health of that tissue for that person, is the holy grail of bioengineering for regenerative medicine.” Related: Organovo’s Bioprinter Technology Could Lead to 3D Printed Human Organs Woodruff and company plan to test the structures in pigs, with an eye toward human trials in the future. The technology could have significant implications for women with fertility issues, particularly cancer patients who often lose their ovarian function after intensive chemotherapy. “What happens with some of our cancer patients is that their ovaries don’t function at a high enough level and they need to use hormone replacement therapies in order to trigger puberty,” said Monica Laronda, co-author of the study and a former post-doctoral fellow in the Woodruff lab. “The purpose of this scaffold is to recapitulate how an ovary would function. We’re thinking big picture, meaning every stage of the girl’s life, so puberty through adulthood to a natural menopause.” + Northwestern University Photo by Duncan Hull

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3D-printed ovaries let infertile mice give birth

Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

May 18, 2017 by  
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A Sahrawi refugee in Algeria is rebuilding lives – literally. Born and raised in the refugee camp in Awserd near Tindouf, 27-year-old Tateh Lehbib Breica is constructing disaster resistant homes using discarded plastic bottles – for himself and others. These recycled homes are specifically built to endure harsh desert conditions for an affordable price. It’s no easy feat to construct homes in a climate where temperatures can spike to around 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Sandstorms also prey on refugee shelters in five camps near Tindouf, Algeria, where people live after fleeing violence in the Western Sahara War over 40 years ago. But the area also faces destructive rainstorms – in 2015 heavy rains wrecked thousands of homes. Related: Mayor born in Syria converts abandoned Greek resort into a sanctuary for refugees Breica may have found a solution in old plastic bottles filled with sand. He has a master’s degree in energy efficiency after participating in a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) scholarship program. He’d intended to build a rooftop garden, growing seedlings in the bottles, but the circular shape of the energy efficient home he was building posed a challenge to that idea. He wondered what he could do with the bottles instead and recalled a documentary on building with plastic bottles he’d seen during his time at university. The plastic bottle homes can better withstand storms than adobe , mudbrick, or tent homes, and are water resistant. The homes have thick walls, and partnered with their circular shape, stand up better to sandstorms. Breica built the first bottle home for his grandmother, who was hurt while being carried to a community center to hunker down during a sandstorm. Working with UNHCR, Breica has built 25 homes so far. He’s earned the nickname Crazy with Bottles for his work. Although he’s won awards for his design, he said, “People still see me as the guy obsessed with recycling bottles and building unusual houses.” Via UNCHR Images © UNHCR/Russell Fraser

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Extraordinary man builds 25 plastic bottle homes for refugees in Algeria

Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

May 9, 2017 by  
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What if instead of prescribing medicine to treat a disease , doctors could prescribe fresh food to help prevent one? Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is testing their food prescription idea with Fresh Food Pharmacy, a service that currently provides diabetic, food insecure patients with recipes and nutritious fare. It turns out giving away healthy food for free is not only socially beneficial, but could ultimately save the healthcare system a decent amount of money. The Fresh Food Pharmacy brims with whole grains, fresh produce, lean meats and fish, greens, and low-fat dairy products. Patients aren’t just handed food, but provided a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, recipes , and instructions on how to make nutritious meals. They receive enough food for five days. Related: HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Fight Childhood Obesity by Offering Healthy Snacks Some people thought handing out free food might rack up a hefty price tag. But diabetes costs are greater than $240 billion a year in the United States. In contrast, Geisinger Health System will pay around $1,000 a year for each diabetes patient in the food pharmacy program. The Geisinger team is tracking hemoglobin A1C levels to help see how much the Fresh Food Pharmacy could save them. CEO David Feinberg estimates each point of decrease in hemoglobin A1C could save them around $8,000, and many of the around 180 patients in the pilot program have seen a drop of three points. America’s health care system today is often termed a disease care system instead; physician Mitesh Patel of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said, “We wait until people get sick and then spend a lot of resources helping them get better.” But he says the Fresh Food Pharmacy offers social and financial incentives to actually help people make a change in their own health. The Fresh Food Pharmacy has made a huge difference for Type 2 diabetes patient Tom Shicowich. He said he used to stop at Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner, or heat up a frozen meal. Now he cooks meals at home with his girlfriend. He’s lost around 45 pounds. And his A1C level has changed significantly. The threshold for Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5. Shicowich’s A1C level was almost 11 a year ago; today it has plummeted to the high-six range. Via NPR Images via Peyri Herrera on Flickr and Geisinger Health System

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

MIT researchers invent an ingestible battery powered by stomach acid

February 8, 2017 by  
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MIT researchers have developed a new safe-to-swallow battery powered by stomach acid. The technology could significantly aid in the powering of ingestible electronic devices currently being used for drug delivery and internal medical procedures like colonoscopies – as well as other wearable technology . MIT drug delivery device As New Atlas reports, “safe-to-swallow batteries” are currently being developed to power these ingestible electronic devices, but up until recently they have posed problems. This recent development out of MIT is expected to provide a cheaper and safer alternative to those batteries currently on the market. The battery was the result of a study by a team of MIT researchers led by senior authors, Giovanni Traverso and Robert Langer who have developed a number of internal devices, for which they wanted a safe, reliable power source. “We need to come up with ways to power these ingestible systems for a long time,” Traverso told New Atlas . “We see the GI tract as providing a really unique opportunity to house new systems for drug delivery and sensing, and fundamental to these systems is how they are powered.” They started with the fact that the majority of batteries are powered by acid, and realized they could take advantage of acid in the stomach. Their concept is based on the simple battery concept that involves putting a piece of zinc and copper into a lemon, where the citric acid becomes an electrolyte that can carry a current between the two metals – creating enough power to run an LED . Related: MIT designs innovative wearable tech that makes it easier to network As New Atlas explains, “The researchers scaled that principle down by attaching their own zinc and copper electrodes to the outside of a small, ingestible device containing a temperature sensor and a 900 MHz transmitter. Like in the lemon, the stomach acid can carry the electric current from the zinc to the copper and power the device, which, when tested in pigs, was able to take temperature readings and then send that data wirelessly, every 12 seconds, to a receiver up to 2 m (6.6 ft) away.” According to senior author Anantha Chandrakasan, this design solves problems with internal medical devices, such as energy generation , conversion, storage and utilization, opening up new horizons for the technology. “This work allows us to envision new medical devices where the body itself contributes to energy generation enabling a fully self-sustaining system.” Via New Atlas Images via MIT

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Modern Brazilian home treats neighboring mountain as an extension of its green patio

January 4, 2017 by  
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When designing a home in a country as verdant as Brazil , it’s important to retain a strong connection to nature. Obra Arquitetos does just that with LEnS House by creating an open design, unobstructed views of the beautiful Mantiqueira mountain range, and planting a suite of lush green plants throughout. The house provides a contemplative and reflective space for a couple. Organized around a small patio , it unfolds across different levels providing views of the central open space through curved glass . The building’s dialogue with nature intensifies with height. The outdoor experience starts with the views of the patio, which features a host of plant species. Related: Brazilian House Harnesses Natural Materials and Smart Design A staircase leads to a green roof , gradually opening up more expansive views of the surrounding landscape. + Obra Arquitetos Via Archdaily Photos by Nelson Kon

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Modern Brazilian home treats neighboring mountain as an extension of its green patio

Off-grid eco-retreats reconnect you to serene nature in Brazil

January 4, 2017 by  
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Couples looking for a romantic escape can unplug in comfort at these off-grid eco-cabins hidden away in the remote coastal mountains of Brazil. Surrounded by nature and captivating views, these solar-powered getaways are the latest installments of Minimod , a prefabricated modern home designed by MAPA Architects. Cozy and dreamy, these Minimod Catuçaba dwellings are the first of their kind in Brazil and are even available to rent on AirBnB. Located on the five-hectare estate of a former coffee plantation that dates back to 1840, the two Minimod Catuçaba cabins border the Serra do Mar State Park and overlook a verdant landscape of trees and mountains. The two 45-square-meter units are placed 1,000 meters apart and were built with different viewpoints and different layouts—one is cross-shaped while the other is rectangular. Both cabins were prefabricated offsite in a factory using cross-laminated timber and are equipped with solar panels and full-height glazing. “We invited Minimod to join the Fazenda Catuçaba community because we believe it is a revolutionary concept in Brazil, that shares in our vision of natural living,” write Casas de Catuçaba , the operators of the eco-cabins. “The Minimod is a primitive refuge with a modern twist. It´s not just a living space, it is an experience. It is a technological experience applied to the natural landscape, an invitation to live on the border between of the natural and the man-made. The Minimod incorporates a silencing system to enhance the experience between the inhabitant and the landscape.” Related: MAPA Architects’ Tiny MINIMOD House is a LED-Lit Prefab Home for Off-Grid Living Each cabin accommodates four and includes two beds, bathroom, kitchen, and living area with an indoor fireplace. Guests have access to trails through the woods that lead to a lake and floating deck, as well as an outdoor fire pit. The cabins are available to rent on AirBnB for $267 per night. + Minimod Catuçaba Via ArchDaily Images via Minimod Catuçaba and © Leonardo Finotti

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Tesla extends free charging at Supercharger stations

January 4, 2017 by  
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As of two weeks from now, there will be no more free lunch for Tesla car buyers, as the company will be cutting off free access to its Supercharger network of charging stations as of January 15, 2017. Engadget reports that this is actually somewhat of a reprieve for Tesla customers, as the cutoff was initially supposed to be January 1, 2017. According to Engadget , Tesla announced this change was coming a few months ago, telling customers they were soon going to have to pay for their own electricity. Given the recent announcement, potential buyers have just a short period in which to get unlimited free electricity for their Tesla car, which amounts to a huge bonus for anyone buying before January 15. Cars bought after that date will be limited to just 400 kilowatt hours of free power per year, and owners will have to pay for the rest. According to Tesla, that’s roughly enough power to drive for about 1,000 miles. Related: Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds Tesla says charging beyond that amount will be available at an additional fee, the amount of which has yet to be announced. They have said it “won’t be too expensive” and will cost drivers “less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.” So if you’re thinking about a Tesla, now could be the time to buy. This announcement comes shortly after CEO Elon Musk hinted that a new generation of Superchargers could charge a Model S in just seconds. Near the end of December 2016, Musk hinted in a tweet that the Supercharger V3 would have an ouput of at least 350 kilowatts, or more than double the output of the current Superchargers in Tesla’s network. Via Engadget Images via Tesla Motors, Joseph Thornton and Steve Jurvetson , Flickr Creative Commons

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Tesla extends free charging at Supercharger stations

How Medicine Makes the Environment Sick

December 1, 2016 by  
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Sea life is swimming in a brew of sugar and spice this holiday season, according to a 2006 Seattle study that found an influx of vanilla and cinnamon in the Puget Sound in the months of November and December. The sugary surge is likely due to all…

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How Medicine Makes the Environment Sick

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