Origins of alcohol consumption traced back to 10-million-year-old common ancestor

Now, I’m not advocating alcohol consumption, but truth be told most of us take alcohol for granted, and I’m not referring to abusing either. Millions of years ago, our ancestors and primate relatives had a very poor ability of metabolizing ethanol — the alcohol in beer, wine and spirits — and were it not for their pioneering “work”, we humans might

Parkinson’s tremors significantly reduced after electrical signal cancels brain waves

For most Parkinson’s patients, tremors associated with this devastating disease make living a normal life extremely difficult, if not impossible. Cooking, eating, even tying one’s shoelaces, basically anything that implies limb manipulation is very difficult to achieve by one’s self. A novel type of therapy developed by physicians at Oxford University, however, brings a glimmer of hope that Parkinson’s patients

Obama funds brain mapping, interesting questions arise

This week, the Obama administration has announced plans to pursue a 10-year, $3 billion research effort aimed at mapping the human brain in “its entirety”. The project, called the Brain Activity Map, is designed to help scientists better understand how the ~100 billion neurons interact in our brains. Initially, the announcement was met with applause, as  the study could prove

‘Golden Rice’ approved in the Philippines after 12 years of anti-GMO protests

Recently, the highly controversial “golden rice” – a genetically modified rice that also contains vitamin A – has been approved in the Philippines after much heated debates and a slew of barrages imposed by anti-GMO organizations. It is believed worldwide 250,000-500,000 children go blind each year, with half of these eventually dying within a year, due to vitamin A deficiency.

Type 1 diabetes cured in animals, humans might not lag far behind

In what can only be considered a remarkable medical breakthrough, researchers at  Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have completely cured type 1 diabetes in dogs after they were injected during a single gene therapy session. The injected gene therapy vectors ensure a healthy expression of glucose, thus the regular insulin shots and associated side effects with the disease are no longer required.

Researchers design software which they claim prescribes better treatment than doctors

Two researchers from Indiana University have developed a computer model they say can identify significantly better and less-expensive treatments than can doctors acting alone. If true, this research could have a significant impact on the healthcare system, but at the same time, rises some extremely important questions. The idea Casey Bennett and Kris Hauser had was simple in its essence:

Genetically engineered virus kills liver cancer and significantly prolongs life

Researchers have developed a gene engineered vaccinia virus JX-594 – one of the pox viruses – that selectively kills cancer cells and increases immune system response. In a clinical trial of 30 terminally-ill liver cancer participants, where doses were randomized, the researchers found that the median life expectancy significantly prolonged. “For the first time in medical history we have shown that a genetically-engineered

Professional athletes learn faster than University students

There’s a common stereotype that depicts athletes as being grunts that are all brawn and no brain. In reality, the truth couldn’t be farther. Athletes, the good ones at least, seemingly posses an above average intelligence, and a recent study by cognitive scientists at University of Montreal adds further weight to this statement. In the study professional and amateur athletes bested university

How much coffee is too much? A new study shows 3 cups is maximum

The apparently evergrowing consumption of coffee and caffeinated products continues to worry scientists, and until now, a maximum safety level had not been established. A common story When Matthew Penbross woke on a morning in August 2007, he wanted to be prepared. A natural desire, considering he was competing in the motocross races near Port Macquarie, Australia; to pump up

25-year old loses all his teeth due to soda addiction

William Kennewel wasn’t a big fan of water – drinking soda instead of it pretty much all the time; now, he has become living proof of the damage soft drinks can cause to your teeth. “I’m told a normal person has about 23 teeth, but … I only had 13 left and they had to be removed,” he said. “It

3D printing stem cells could be used one day to ‘manufacture’ organs

We’re only in the early days of 3-D printing, but even now the breakthroughs made using such technology are most impressive like the genuine possibility of printing spare parts in space for the ISS, creating objects of great details on the nanoscale or even artificial muscles made using a 3-D printer. What’s fabulous though is that 3-D printing is developing

The making of a bully – childhood trauma is key

They say that the bully is actually the victim – and studies on adolescent rats seem to support this idea; younger rats subjected to a stressful environment turn out to be aggressive adults, behaviors that may be explained by accompanying epigenetic changes and altered brain activity. Whoa, let’s slow down a little. Much like humans, rats are also vulnerable to

DNA vaccines could prove to be safer, easier and better than traditional method

Vaccines have become synonymous to needles, and for a lot of people they’re the subject of horror stories since childhood. Typically, a vaccine works by injecting an inactive virus into the body, such that when the real virus reaches the host body, the immune system will be quick to act and destroy it before it gets a chance to spread. This doesn’t

Antibiotics of the future might come from the bottom of the oceans

The advent of antibiotics has spared humanity of a great deal of suffering and has saved countless lives through the years. Infectious diseases do not bore too easily and have always put out a fight, though. The bad news is that they’re winning and as the battle rages on, more and more strains become resistant to drugs. The consequences are

How natural selection helped Siberian natives survive harsh cold

Though Siberia stretches across about 10% of the world’s land surface, it’s only occupied by 0.5% of the world’s population, which isn’t too hard to explain why. Recent temperature measurements read on average -25°C for the month of January, but it’s not unheard of to experience temperatures below -40°C. Extreme weather, temperatures and terrain, however, call for extreme humans, and who

How a 15-year-old created the cheapest medical device that might save millions of lives

Jack Andraka is in his sophomore high-school year, but while other kids his age might be preoccupied with fighting puberty, the 15-year-old is fighting cancer. He has devised a pancreatic test kit that costs only three cents, requires only a drop of blood, is non-invasive and has a formidable success rate. Not only this, but the test detects the cancer

Cloned animals aren’t identical – we’re still far from the perfect clone

It is generally believed that a cloned animal is identical to its host from where cells were initially harvested, however this may be wrong. Researchers at the  National Veterinary Institute at the Technical University of Denmark have provided evidence that suggests cloned pigs are just as genetically varied as normally bred pigs, supporting the idea that cloning as it is performed

Graphene and brain research get biggest research prize ever – $2 billion [shorties]

Research into the new wondermaterial graphene and the neurochemistry of the human brain will be given up to two billion euros ($2.68 billion) in funding – the largest research grant in official, recorded history, the European Commission said on Monday. The two areas are the beneficiaries of the Future Emerging Technology (FET) Flagship programme, described as an “X-Factor for science”;

Doctors perform double-arm transplant on Iraq soldier

A former soldier who sadly became a quadruple amputee during his time in Iraq after an explosion three years ago has undergone a very rare double arm transplant at John Hopkins Hospital. Brendan Marrocco, 26, of Staten Island, who underwent the marathon surgery last month has gone through a lot; he was the first first service member from the wars

Yoga helps reduce symptoms of most major psychiatric diseases

It’s a well known fact that yoga does good to the mind and body, but the extent of that benefit is something still debated. Now, yoga supporters have just gotten a big hand from a study conducted by psychiatrists. “Yoga has also become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and consumers to differentiate legitimate claims