Tag Archives | medical science

First Full Body Transplant Two Years Away

Anatomical Male Figure Showing Heart, Lungs, and Main Arteries.jpg An Italian doctor plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body using procedures he believes will soon be ready, per the Guardian:

A surgeon says full-body transplants could become a reality in just two years.

Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

Canavero hopes to assemble a team to explore the radical surgery in a project he is due to launch at a meeting for neurological surgeons in Maryland this June.

He has claimed for years that medical science has advanced to the point that a full body transplant is plausible, but the proposal has caused raised eyebrows, horror and profound disbelief in other surgeons.

The Italian doctor, who recently published a broad outline of how the surgery could be performed, told New Scientist magazine that he wanted to use body transplants to prolong the lives of people affected by terminal diseases.

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Google Making Human Skin

Google is making human skin as part of research into “wristband that can detect cancer,” reports the Independent:

Google has been making synthetic human skin as part of work to create a wristband that can detect cancer, impending heart attacks and other diseases.

Scientists in the life sciences division of Google X laboratories in California needed to create arms that were as realistic as possible to test the technology.

Dr Andrew Conrad said the system, which is still in the early stages of development, would detect cancer cells when they first appear by using nanoparticles that “search” the body for disease.

It would theoretically allow diagnosis long before any physical symptoms appear, enabling early intervention to reduce the fatality rate of illnesses.

“We’re trying to change medicine from being episodic and reactive, like going to the doctor saying ‘my arm hurts’, to being proactive and preventative,” he told The Atlantic.

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BPA and ‘BPA-Free’ Alternative Linked to Fetal Brain Changes

If you saw our documentary about bottled water Tapped, you’ll know that BPA is not the only toxic chemical in plastics. The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study linking Bisphenol A and the so-called BPA-Free alternative, Bisphenol S, to changes in the brain of fetuses:

Fetal exposure to Bisphenol A, as well as to the widely marketed alternative Bisphenol S, may cause “real and measurable” changes in the development of a brain region that plays a key role in fear, impulse-control, obesity and early puberty.

Dopamine pathways.svg
A 2008 review concluded that BPA mimics estrogenic activity and affects various dopaminergic processes to enhance mesolimbic dopamine activity resulting in hyperactivityattention deficits, and a heightened sensitivity to drugs of abuse.[123]

Canadian researchers have found in animal studies that low-level exposure to either Bisphenol A (BPA) or Bisphenol S (BPS) during the equivalent to a human fetus’ second trimester altered the timetable and rate at which neurons inside the brain’s hypothalamus developed.

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Transcendence: RU Sirius & Jay Cornell on Transhumanism

TranscendenceR.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell are the authors of Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. Transhumanism has been a hot but divisive topic on disinformation, so we felt there was a need to foster greater understanding of just what transhumanism is, and is not, hence the format of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia.

We asked Jay and R.U. to answer a few questions about the book and the topic in general:

RU, you have long been associated with the transhumanism movement; can you tell us how you got hooked and what your personal interest in transhumanism is?

RU: In a sense, I go way back to the 1970s, although I wasn’t familiar with the term transhumanism then. I think the only person using it at that time was a guy named F.M. Esfandiary. I was, if you will, turned on and tuned in by Timothy Leary and his cohort in conscious evolution Robert Anton Wilson.… Read the rest

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New Antibiotic Kills Pathogens Without Detectable Resistance

Chemical Structure of Teixobactin based on Nature Article.svg

Chemical Structure of Teixobactin (CC)

Although it’s been repeatedly said that we’re on the verge of entering a post-antibiotic era, scientists have now discovered a new antibiotic that kills pathogens without detectable resistance. Their research paper is in the December 2014 edition of Nature; this is the abstract:

Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria.

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Ketamine (Special K) May Be Best Medicine For Depression

Ketmine Injection I.P..jpg

Photo: Psychonaught (CC)

Amazingly enough the powerful hallucinogen ketamine (the horse tranquilizer sometimes known as Special K) is being touted as a serious and better alternative to the SSRIs like Prozac. Report from the New York Times:

It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.

It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.

While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.

And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.

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Treating Depression With Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybe semilanceata 6514.jpg

Psilocybe semilanceata 6514. Photo by Arp (CC)

When the New York Times runs an op-ed seriously suggesting the use of psilocybin (a/k/a magic mushrooms) for treatment of depression, one suspects a tipping point may have been reached in the struggle for psychedelics to be taken seriously as having medical worth:

I tried magic mushrooms out of curiosity and in middle age. I’d been on the amateur mycological circuit for a couple of years, but hallucinogenic species were rarely mentioned at the foraging expeditions and conferences I attended. It’s almost as if they were the black sheep of mycology: embarrassing to serious taxonomy jocks. I read some books on the subject, but most were tripper’s guides that didn’t utilize, um, specific language or current science. Psychoactive mushrooms had been in a kind of scientific ghetto ever since they were criminalized in 1968. But now the drug derived from the mushroom, psilocybin, is finally being re-examined for its medical applications.

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This Is Your Brain on Drugs

A Harvard-Northwestern study has found differences between the brains of young adult marijuana smokers and those of nonsmokers. In these composite scans, colors represent the differences — in the shape of the amygdala, top, and nucleus accumbens. Yellow indicates areas that are most different, red the least. Credit The Journal of Neuroscience

A Harvard-Northwestern study has found differences between the brains of young adult marijuana smokers and those of nonsmokers. In these composite scans, colors represent the differences — in the shape of the amygdala, top, and nucleus accumbens. Yellow indicates areas that are most different, red the least. Credit The Journal of Neuroscience

Want to know what your brain looks like when you smoke weed? If so you’re in luck because some scientists at Harvard and Northwestern University have taken photographs of marujuana-affected brain scans and analyzed what happens. Report via the New York Times:

The gray matter of the nucleus accumbens, the walnut-shaped pleasure center of the brain, was glowing like a flame, showing a notable increase in density. “It could mean that there’s some sort of drug learning taking place,” speculated Jodi Gilman, at her computer screen at the Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine. Was the brain adapting to marijuana exposure, rewiring the reward system to demand the drug?

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Google Nanotech Pill Will Search Your Body For Disease Detection

There’s an emerging theme in contemporary science fiction of medical nanotechnology running amok with disastrous consequences for humanity. The inevitable science fact is catching up fast with fiction and no surprise, Google is among the first mega-corporations working on a nanotech pill that will run around the human body detecting problems (and no doubt eventually “fixing” them). From PC Mag:

Google X is working on another moonshot: a nanoparticle-filled pill intended to help doctors identify and prevent fatal diseases.

Andrew Conrad, head of the Life Sciences team at the Google X research lab, told attendees at the The Wall Street Journal’s WSJD Live conference (video below) that he wants to “functionalize” nanoparticles and “make them do what we want.”

These particles are less than one-thousandth the size of a red blood cell, and small enough that millions can fit within a grain of sand – or the human body. But don’t expect to start swallowing nanoparticle-infused pills during your next visit to the doctor.

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Origins of HIV Revealed

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ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47. Picture attributed to uLtRa_GoLiAtH (CC)

It’s never been completely clear how the HIV virus came about, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about it being man-made. The Independent reports on a new study revealing a “perfect storm” of factors giving rise to the virus’s emergence:

A “perfect storm” of factors that came together in colonial Africa early last century led to the spread of Aids in the human population and eventually a full-blown pandemic infecting more than 75 million people worldwide, a study has found.

A genetic analysis of thousands of individual viruses has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that HIV first emerged in Kinshasa, the capital of the Belgian Congo, in about 1920 from where it spread via the colonial railway network to other parts of central Africa.

Scientists believe the findings have finally nailed the origin of the Aids pandemic to a single source, a colonial-era city then called Leopoldville which had become the biggest urban centre in Central Africa and a bustling focus for trade, including a market in wild “bush meat” captured from the nearby forests.

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