Scientists Are Using Micromotors To Fight Bacteria In The Stomach

micromotors scheme of the stomach illustrated

Scientists are testing the efficiency of micromotors in treating stomach bacterial infections.

A team of scientists is using tiny, autonomous vehicles or micromotors to test the delivery of drugs to try and clear bacterial infections in the stomach.

University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center Department of Nanoengineering researchers led this new study. They have been conducting trials on mice to tests the utility of their autonomous vehicles.

Micromotors to be Used to Fight Stomach Infections

The micromotors produced by the team are no wider than a human hair and are autonomous. These tiny vehicles were used to clear stomach bacterial infections by delivering the necessary drugs.

The tiny robots were constructed with a magnesium core, which then reacts with the gastric acid after being swallowed. After no more than 20 minutes, the micromotors should release a stream of hydrogen bubbles. These propel the tiny vehicles and send them where they need to go.

The antibiotics released by the vehicles are set to be released as the stomach’s level of acidity diminishes thanks to oxygen. This ensures the medicine’s effectiveness. The micromotors are biodegradable, so they do not require removal or extraction.

For their study, the team tested the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It then used the clarithromycin as its model antibiotic. The tiny robots were then used over a period of five days in treating the affected mice.

According to results, having them administer the medicine resulted in a noticeable reduction of the stomach bacteria levels. Also, no side-effects or adverse reactions of the stomach function were recorded.

The research team stated that the standard stomach PH level was restored in 24 hours.

Researchers believe that these tiny vehicles show real promise for future treatments. Ones that make use of them in treating bacterial infections and also diseases.

“There is still a long way to go, but we are on a fantastic voyage,” stated Joseph Wang, a professor and nanoengineer.

The team released their study results in a paper in the journal Nature Communications.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Binge Drinking In America At Critical Levels This Century

glass of beer next to a full plate

The increase in the drinking habits of Americans can have dire consequences in the future of healthcare

On Wednesday, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that almost 30 million adults in the U.S engage in binge drinking at least once a week. An almost same number reported alcohol abuse or dependency. The study highlights a trend that could have great implications for the costs of the U.S’s future healthcare.

The Rise in Numbers Includes All Demographics

The study shows that there has been a decrease in the numbers of young adults who drink. However, binge drinking in adults increased significantly and encompasses all demographics. What stood out the most were older Americans, citizens of lower incomes and education and minorities. Lead researcher from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Bridget Grant said that such jumps have not been seen in the last three or four decades.

A survey in 2001 first recorded the increase in alcohol drinking. A follow-up survey in 2012 resulted in an even bigger increase in risky drinking habits. The 2001 survey noted that 9.7% of adults engage in heavy drinking. The follow-up reported a 12.6%. This means that the limits set by the government of four drinks for women per day and five for men were exceeded at least once a week. The new study shows that women engaged more in binge drinking than men.

Alchohol abuse or dependence is roughly coming up to the same percentage. The 2001 survey reported 8.5% of responders admitting such behavior while the follow-up survey reported 12.7%. The surveys all featured standard questions regarding drinking habits and the difficulty of giving up these habits.

So far there is no certain explanation for the increase. The economic stress that followed the Great Recession might be a factor. At the same time, taxes on alcohol have been reduced and alcohol is available in any restaurant or retail store. Alcohol abuse can have dire consequences on health, including the risk of drunk-driving deaths and alcohol related violence.

Image source: Pixabay.

New Episode, New Game Of Thrones Theories Relating To Bran, Jamie Lannister

game of thrones theories dagger exhibition

New Game of Thrones theories emerge with each new episode, and this one was no exception.

There are quite a lot of Game of Thrones theories out there, and quite a few have been proven to be true both in past seasons and in the current one as well. Attention! Spoilers for episode 4 will follow!

But after episode 4’s epic dragon battle, there are a few more theories that may be addressed in the new episodes. Some of them are specifically about Bran Stark (Issac Hempstead-Wright) and others about Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).

Game of Thrones Theories about Jaime’s Survival

At the end of episode 4, Jaime Lannister was last seen floating in a deep pond after a failed attempt to take Daenerys out. Some feared he might die then and there. But given how important he is as a character, some consider this to be quite unlikely. So what will happen to the golden Lannister? Since the next episode shows Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) in front of the Lannister army, it is presumed that she will take the surviving army and also capture Jaime too.

If this does happen, some are wondering whether this will this put Jamie Lannister on the path to killing Cersei (played by Lena Hedley). Jaime being the one to kill his sister has been theorized for quite a while. Maggy the Frog predicted that Cersei would die at the hands of her younger brother, which Jaime is considered to be.

Bran’s Next Move

There are hints in the new episode trailer that Bran and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) have been communicating via raven. He might also have very well told Jon about his parentage. But the trailer also reveals that Bran knows that the White Walkers are getting closer. As he was branded by the Night King last year, will he be the one to let them in? Or could he be the key to rescuing everyone?

Bran Stark is also the Three-Eyed Raven, so many are expecting exciting reveals and tactical moves from him. Perhaps giving Arya the Valyrian steel dagger is one of them? Another of the Game of Thrones theories states that he is also Bran the Builder. Fans came to this idea because of his ability to move through time. Did he build the wall 8,000 years ago to keep the White Walkers out?

We’ll have to keep watching to find out. But one thing is for certain. Things are about to go down!

Image Source: Wikimedia

Scientists Detect Giant Exoplanet With A ‘Glowing’ Water Atmosphere

giant exoplanet wasp-121b

Scientists detected a giant exoplanet, WASP-121b, that presents a “glowing” water atmosphere.

Scientists detected a Jot Jupiter or a giant exoplanet similar to our own gas giant planet that presents a “glowing” water atmosphere. One that also offers the closest yet evidence of the presence of a stratosphere on an exoplanet.

This particular giant exoplanet was named WASP-121b and is part of the “Hot Jupiter” class. These are all Jupiter-like gas giant planets which are believed to be quite common across the galaxy but which are apparently missing in our own galaxy.

Just as the rest of the space bodies in this class, WASP-121b is both still quite a mystery but also probably insanely hot. So it is quite unlikely that such an exoplanet could be capable of holding or developing life forms.

However, it is presenting a stratosphere could come with significant implications for the rest of the space bodies in the Universe. This 900 light years distant giant exoplanet could be a step forward in determining the chemical and physical conditions making up an alien world.

Giant Exoplanet Has a “Glowing” Atmosphere

giant exoplanet wasp-121b

NASA Ames Research Centre scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope detected glowing water molecules in the atmosphere of WASP-121b. A spectroscopic analysis revealed that these water molecules were giving off infrared radiation. This happened as they were losing energy because of the heat increase in what must be the exoplanet’s stratosphere.

WASP-121b is estimated to register temperatures of around 4,600 degrees Fahrenheit in its upper atmosphere.

“This result is exciting because it shows that a common trait of most of the atmospheres in our Solar System – a warm stratosphere – also can be found in exoplanet atmospheres,” states Mark Marley, one of the study researchers.

He then continues by pointing out that scientists can now compare the atmospheric process registered on an exoplanet to those taking place, under different conditions, in our Solar System.

Future research will be looking to find out more about the mysterious Hot Jupiters. They will also be trying to precisely determine what chemicals in their atmosphere are absorbing so much starlight.

Current study results were published in the journal Nature.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

Scientists Implanted Stem Cells In The Hypothalamus To Slow Aging

brain implanted stem cells

Scientists implanted stem cells in a specific brain region to see if it could slow down aging.

A team of researchers found evidence that a particular brain region, the hypothalamus, might be involved in the aging process through the presence of neural stem cells. As these were noted to disappear with time, the scientists implanted stem cells to see if this could help expand the lifespan.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx scientists led by Dongsheng Cai, a molecular pharmacologist, are behind this new study. Back in 2013, the team detected that the hypothalamus could be playing a role in aging. They also concluded that reducing the inflammation in the brains of the mice might also help extend the animals’ lives.

Implanted Stem Cells to Help Extend the Lifespan?

Cai and his team conducted a follow-up study. Through it, they tried to pinpoint the exact stem cells involved in the aging process. According to the study, these could be the neural stem cells, which help generate replacements for damaged or dead cells.

The study, which was conducted on mice, noted that neural stem cells start disappearing as the animal is middle aged (around ten months old). They are also seemingly completely gone as the mouse reached old age (two years old).

To analyze if neural stem cells are actually involved in the aging process, the team carried out two separate tests. In one of them, they disrupted these cells in a group of mice. These rodents were then noted to be aging faster than normal, and to live less than the others.

“There was a decline in learning and memory, coordination, muscle mass, endurance, and skin thickness,” explained Cai.

The researchers also tested the opposite. They implanted stem cells into the hypothalamus of another group of mice. Follow-ups showed that these animals lived significantly longer than the others. For example, their lifespan was 15 percent longer than that of the control group of mice.

Although the technique and the results have been described as being “totally novel and quite unexpected”, this does not guarantee them as being applicable to humans as well.

It remains to be determined through follow-up research if this is similar or the same in people, as they are more complex. Now, the researchers will be looking to conduct a trial study on the matter.

Research findings are available in the Nature journal.

Image Source: Wikimedia

More Than Half Of The Milky Way Seems To Be Made Out Of Extragalactic Matter

milky way extragalactic matter

The Milky Way may be composed, in more than half, by extragalactic matter.

According to a new study, the Milky Way, our Earth, the Sun, and everything in between or around them could be made out of extragalactic matter. More simply put, it could be composed of star material from outside our galaxy.

Northwestern University astrophysicists are behind this new study. According to them, they created a “first of its kind analysis”. This shows that the Milky Way’s origins may be more far flung and less locally created than initially believed.

Extragalactic Matter, the Source Material for Many Galaxies?

The study team used supercomputer simulations to track and analyze how matter moved around the Universe over time. They called this process “intergalactic transfer”. These 3D simulation models tracked the generated galaxies from their early days following the Big Bang, up to the present day.

The simulation points out that collapsing supernovae can eject enormous quantities of gas from their galaxies. In turn, this transforms the atoms from their stars to farther away places, helping them from one galaxy to another.

“It is likely that much of the Milky Way’s matter was in other galaxies before it was kicked out by a powerful wind, traveled across intergalactic space and eventually found its new home in the Milky Way,” states Daniel Anglés-Alcázar.

He is the lead author and a Northwestern University postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

Anglés-Alcázar continues by stating that, together with his colleagues, they determined that possibly a half of the matter in the Milky Way might have come from other galaxies. Perhaps even very distant ones.

Anglés-Alcázar states that, given the significant amount of extragalactic matter in the Milky Way, people could consider themselves “space travelers”.

Now, the study team reports that they will be looking to test their simulations and result with real data. One collected by Earth-based observatories and also space telescopes.

A research paper with the current study results is available in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Scientists Develop A New Sort Of Vine-Like And Growing Robot

vine viper inspired growing robot

Scientists created a vine-like, snake-like growing robot prototype.

A team of scientists announced that they created a new, soft, vine-like and growing robot. This snake-like creation is capable of twisting and extending, and its capacities could be more useful than believed.

The research team was inspired, for its creation, by organisms that cover longer distances by growing. For example, they drew inspiration from vines or nerve cells. The resulting tentacular prototype could come to represent a new type of soft robotics. One that will also be capable of moving in ways that others can’t even dream of.

Stanford University researchers are behind this new creation. According to their study paper, the prototype works thanks to the principle of ‘eversion’. Basically, the robot’s body is folded within itself, so to move, it has to unfurl its plastic ‘innards’.

The Vine-Like and Growing Robot is Still in the Prototype Stage

“Essentially, we’re trying to understand the fundamentals of this new approach to getting mobility or movement out of a mechanism,” states Allison Okamura, a mechanical engineer part of the study.

Okamura also points out that this is a different way of locomotion from humans and most creatures.

The growing robot will basically “regurgitate” itself. Its front tip will be continuously new, as it will present the most recently released skin. This robotic creation’s body will lengthen as the end material will extend.

When fully unfolded, it will reach a length of 236 feet. It is also capable of achieving a pretty impressive speed of 21.7 mph.

The team, however, will not be focusing on its moving speed. Instead, it is looking to develop a robot that can move through challenging environments such as twisted, rocky, areas.

The available prototype is filled with air and powered by pneumatic air pressure. However, the research team considers that it could come to be made out of tougher materials, such as Kevlar, for example.

In turn, this might make it fillable with other materials as well. The team believes that it might come to contain water, which it could then transport to victims trapped under rubble or in other emergency situations.

Thanks to its inflatable nature, the robot could also come to be used in lifting heavy objects out of the way. These are also just a number of its vehiculated, future applications, which the scientists are now striving to achieve.

A paper in the journal Science Robotics offers further details on this growing robot.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Soft Artificial Heart Is Capable Of Beating Like The Real One, But Not As Long

illustration of soft artificial heart

A team of scientists created a soft artificial heart capable of beating almost like a real cord.

A team of researchers managed to accomplish an impressive feat as they created a soft artificial heart prototype capable of beating almost like a real one. However, they still have their work cut out for them, as the prototype currently has a limited beating span.

A team of ETH Zurich Functional Materials Laboratory in Switzerland researchers are behind this new artificial heart. They managed to create it by using 3D printing technology and silicone.

The Soft Artificial Heart Is Almost an Exact Replica of a Real Cord

This heart prototype was designed to replicate a real human heart, as opposed to other existing blood pumps or cord replicas. The soft artificial heart employed the use of a 3D printer and is made out of silicone. It features almost the same compartmentation, only instead of two, it has three ventricles.

This additional chamber unlocks its ability to beat. The prototype weighs some 390 grams and has a volume of 679 cubic centimeters, which makes it a bit heavier than a real cord.

Its left and right ventricle are separated not by a septum but by the extra heart chamber. This acts as the cord muscle, as it helps move pressurized air that inflates and deflates the prototype.

The soft silicone heart can then beat as a regular real one, but only for some 3,000 times. About 30 to 45 minutes after it started beating, its silicone base starts breaking apart.

The research team is now working hard on improving its prototype. They will be looking to strengthen its material. Further enhancements will also have to help it function over longer periods of time. Still, as the research team states, this was solely a test, and their first target was creating an as real as possible heart. This in itself could open up a new path in organ replacement.

“This was simply a feasibility test. Our goal was not to present a heart ready for implantation, but to think about a new direction for the development of artificial hearts.”

Further tests, studies, and research will still be needed. But this is nonetheless an important step towards the creation of an as efficient as possible artificial heart.

Current study results are available in the journal Artificial Organs.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Tardigrades Are Likely To Be Alive Even 5 Billion Years From Now

tardigrades

Tardigrades are seemingly likely to survive another five billion years from now on.

Scientists have known for some time that tardigrades, also known as water bears, are capable of surviving almost anything they can throw at it. Extended periods of dehydration, exposure to vacuum conditions, and even heavy doses of radiation would fail to kill these micro-animals.

Even though they are less than a millimeter long, they may well be some of the toughest creatures in existence. They have also been around for quite some time. Now, researchers predict that they could survive, as a species, for another 5 billion years.

Tardigrades are Quite Indestructible Creatures

A team looked into the issue as a way of examining how life might survive extinction level events and possibly transmit from planet to planet, even between stars. It also helps them predict life on other planets might exist long enough for us to find it. Of all the members of the animal kingdom, the tardigrade appears to be the most likely to survive a major destructive event. Only some microbes might have a greater chance to continue afterward.David Sloan, a physics researcher at Oxford University, stated that this new study considered “the hardiest species”, namely, the tardigrade. It did so as quite a number of previous studies focused on ‘doomsday’ scenarios.

These revolve around Earth and the astrophysical events, such as supernovae, which could wipe out humanity. However, few considered what species could still survive them.

Sloan, a co-author of the study, continued, relating his comments to other recent discoveries. “As we are now entering a stage of astronomy where we have seen exoplanets and are hoping to soon perform spectroscopy, looking for signatures of life, we should try to see just how fragile this hardiest life is.”
The main reason they put the 5 billion years time limit on the tardigrades’ existence is tied to the Sun. This is predicted to expand to such a size that Earth’s oceans would completely boil away. Still, humans will be gone long before that.
Study results are available in the journal Nature.  
Image Source: Wikimedia

A One Trillion Tons Iceberg Broke From The Larsen C Ice Shelf

one million tons iceberg satellite view

A one trillion tons iceberg jut broke free of the Larsen C Ice Shelf in northwest Antarctica.

Scientists monitoring the Larsen C Ice Shelf announced early on Wednesday morning that a one trillion tons iceberg just broken free of the formation located in northwest Antarctica.

The team of researchers is part of Project MIDAS, a United Kingdom initiated research project. Scientists point out that such calving events are quite to be expected. Especially so considering the crack in Larsen C, which has been expanding faster than expected.

Calving is the term given to the process in which chunks of ice break off at the end or terminus of an ice shelf or glacier.

 

One Trillion Tons Iceberg, the Third Biggest Calving Ever Recorded

According to initial estimates, the one trillion tons iceberg which recently broke off is one of the largest such structures ever recorded. It was estimated to be about the size of Delaware as it has an area of some 2,200 square miles. It also contains an ice volume about twice as big as the size of Lake Erie.

The Project MIDAS researchers revealed these details in a blog release posted on July 12. This also pointed out that the iceberg will most likely receive the “A68” designation. Its title will help officials in charge of tracking the movement of icebergs so that these can be avoided by ships.

Scientists also state that it is still hard to predict how the situation will unfold from now on. This is turn due to the iceberg’s large size. Scientists report that this may either remain in one piece or break apart into fragments. This latter also seems to be the most likely variant.

 

The calving event in itself is believed to have taken place sometime in between Monday, July 10, and Wednesday, July 12.

 

However, the researchers pointed out that “The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12 percent, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever.”

If the one trillion tons iceberg does break apart, some parts of it may drift up north, into warmer parts. Some others may remain for decades in the same area where they are now.

Image Source: JPL/NASA