British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield.
Prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year, scuttling into potential danger areas such as booby-trapped buildings or enemy hideouts to relay images back to troops safely positioned nearby.
They would swarm into the building and relay images back to the soldiers' hand-held or wrist-mounted computers, warning them of any threats inside.
BAE Systems has just signed a £19million contract to develop the robots for the US Army.
Robot-spy-spiders coming soon to a street near you -- read the full Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy 'by end of the year' story.
A coffee habit, coupled with regular exercise, may help prevent skin cancers better than either factor alone, new research suggests.
Both caffeine and exercise seem to help kill the UVB-damaged cells before malignancy sets in. "We really don't know how that happens," said Dr. Allan H. Conney, senior author of the study.
In the study, his team looked at four groups of hairless mice. The rodents' exposed skin is very vulnerable to the sun.
Four groups of mice were studied in the experiment. The caffeine drinkers showed a 96 percent increase in damaged cell death compared to the control group and the exercisers showed a 120 percent increase. Even more significant, the mice that drank caffeine and ran on the training wheel had a nearly 400 percent increase in cell death of damaged cells.
This is not a reason to skip out on sunblock, though. Learn more at livescience.
A vaccine that is capable of delivering a double whammy against AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus by both providing immunity against the infection while at the same time destroying cells infected by the virus is ready for clinical trials, a group of Russian researchers announced.
The vaccine is an artificial virus-like particle whose outer casing consists of the TBI (T- and B cell epitopes containing immunogen) protein constructed by the researchers combined with the polyglucin protein.
The scientists emphasize that as the combiHIVvac vaccine not only stimulates antibody production but also destroys the cells infected by the virus, this vaccine can be considered not only a prophylactic one but also as a therapeutic one.
The vaccine they developed is ready for clinical trials.
Read the entire release here.
Russia has banned the shipment of medical specimens abroad, threatening hundreds of patients and complicating drug trials by major companies, the national Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday.
An anonymous medical source linked the ban to a report by the FSB secret service in May 2007, that he said warned of Russian genetic material being used in Western clinics to prepare biological weapons that would harm only Russians.
We should expect Moscow to complete the protection of Russian DNA by banning hair brushes, shedding skin cells and foreign travel by Russians.
See "Russia bans human tissue export in bioweapon alert" at NewScientist for more.
Current iris scanning systems require a person to stand still and look directly into a digital camera from close range.
A new covert iris scanner, developed by Sarnoff Labs in New Jersey, US, will instead use an array of compact, high resolution cameras to scan people's irises as they walk towards a checkpoint, without them even knowing it.
In addition to eventual use in identification, this technology will allow governments and corporations to use your own eyeballs in the same way as browser cookies (albeit these will be harder to clear from the cache).
Learn more at New Scientist or read the full patent application.
Eating a diet consisting largely of fast food could cause your waistline to bulge more than eating the same amount of fat from healthier sources.
Monkeys fed a diet rich in trans-fats--commonly found in fast foods--grew bigger bellies than those fed a diet rich in unsaturated fats, but containing the same overall number of calories. They also developed signs of insulin resistance, which is an early indicator of diabetes.
After six years on the diet, the trans-fat-fed monkeys had gained 7.2% of their body weight, compared to just 1.8% in the unsaturated group. CT scans also revealed that the trans-fat monkeys carried 30% more abdominal fat, which is risk factor for diabetes and heart disease.
"We were shocked. Despite all our enormous efforts to make sure they didn't gain weight, they still did. And most of that weight ended up on their tummies," says Kylie Kavanagh, who presented her findings at the American Diabetes Association meeting in Washington DC, on Monday. "This is walking them straight down the path to diabetes."
Read the full Why fast foods are bad, even in moderation article at New Scientist.
Folic acid supplements may prevent cancer progression and promote regression of disease, according to a new study published in the July 15, 2006 issue of CANCER (a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society).
The small study found that 31 of 43 patients with the precancerous laryngeal lesion called leucoplakia demonstrated 50 percent or greater reduction in the lesion size after six months of taking folate supplements. In 12 of 31 responders, there was no evidence of the original lesion.
The investigators enrolled 43 patients with untreated laryngeal leucoplakia and treated them with folic acid (5mg three times a day) and evaluated the progression of leucoplakia every 30 days for six months.
Over six months of treatment, 12 patients (28 percent) had complete resolution of their leucoplakia lesions; 19 patients (44 percent) had reduction of 50 percent or more in the size of their lesions and 12 patients (28 percent) had no response. Mean folate levels increased and mean homocysteine levels decreased significantly. There were no moderate or severe adverse events reported.
Folate deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in the United States. Folate is incorporated into coenzymes that are essential in facilitating a variety of reactions in nucleic acid and amino acids metabolism. Some of which are critical to healthy life, such as DNA synthesis, DNA repair, and converting homocysteine to methionine. The latter is particularly important because excess homocysteine is linked to chronic health problems, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Reference article "Pilot Phase IIA Study for Evaluation of the Efficacy of Folic Acid in the Treatment of Laryngeal Leucoplakia," Giovanni Almadori, Francesco Bussu, Pierluigi Navarra, Jacopo Galli, Gaetano Paludetti, Bruno Giardina, Maurizio Maurizi, CANCER; Published Online: June 12, 2006 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22003); Print Issue Date: July 15, 2006.
Philips would like to take advantage of Multimedia Home Platform -- the technology behind interactive television in many countries around the world -- to add flags to commercial breaks to stop a viewer from changing channels until the adverts are over and to disable the fast forward control while they are playing.
Philips' realizes that implementation of this patent may be "greatly resented by viewers" but suggests that the system could offer viewers the chance to pay a fee interactively to go back to skipping adverts. Wow, thanks.
See the source article at New Scientist and the patent.
The first human recipients of laboratory-grown organs were reported by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. In The Lancet, Atala describes long-term success in children and teenagers.
The engineered bladders were grown from the patients’ own cells, so there is no risk of rejection. Scientists hope that laboratory-grown organs can one day help solve the shortage of donated organs available for transplantation. Atala reported that the bladders showed improved function over time – with some patients being followed for more than seven years.
To create the new bladders, the researchers took a biopsy from patients whose bladders functioned poorly due to an inherited nervous system disorder. The team then placed muscle cells and cells from the bladder lining on a biodegradable bladder-shaped scaffold and allowed them to grow for about two months.
The scaffolds were made of the structural protein collagen, in some cases adding polyglycolic acid, a polymer used in surgical sutures. The scaffold was designed to degrade as the bladder tissue integrated with the body. Testing showed that the engineered bladders functioned as well as bladders that are repaired with intestine tissue, but with none of the ill effects.
“We have shown that regenerative medicine techniques can be used to generate functional bladders that are durable,” said Atala. “This suggests that regenerative medicine may one day be a solution to the shortage of donor organs in this country for those needing transplants.”
See the Wake Forest press release or the Bio-engineered bladders successful in patients article at New Scientist.
Dogs with three weeks of training can best the latest CAT, PET and MRI scanners at detecting some forms of cancer by sniffing breath samples.
A peer-reviewed study, led by Michael McCulloch of the Pine Street Foundation in San Anselmo, California, and Tadeusz Jezierski of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, reveals scientific evidence that a dog's scenting ability can distinguish people with both early and late stage lung and breast cancers from healthy controls.
Lung cancer, when symptoms arise, is usually diagnosed at Stage III or IV, when the prognosis is rarely good. Aiming to develop a feasible and effective early detection method, the investigators based their work on the observation that cancer cells emit different metabolic waste products than normal cells. The differences between these metabolic products are apparently so great that they can be detected by a dog's keen sense of smell, even in the early stages of disease.
The researchers found that ordinary dogs, could be rapidly trained to identify lung and breast cancer patients by smelling samples of their breath, and that their diagnostic performance was not affected by disease stage of cancer patients, age, smoking, or most recently eaten meal among either cancer patients or controls.
The study will be published in the March 2006 issue of the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies and more details are available now on the Pine Street's Diagnostic Accuracy of Canine Scent Detection of Lung and Breast Cancers in Exhaled Breath, BrightSurf's Can dogs smell cancer? and in the Dr Dog, the cancer specialist article at Times Online.