Health & Wellbeing

New breast enlargement method uses stem cells instead of silicone

August 6, 2007 The number of breast enlargement operations performed in the US, for both augmentation and reconstruction purposes, has radically increased in the last decade. At the same time the number of operations to remove implants has also risen and given the potential surgical complications and health consequences of such surgery, many doctors find this trend troubling. Cytori Therapeutics, a Californian biotech company, has used stem cell technology to develop a more natural breast growth procedure and although it is still too early to determine their long term effectiveness, it’s possible that by avoiding the problems associated with current implants, the new approach could be a safer, healthier alternative.Read More

iLimb: world's first fully articulating and commercially available bionic hand

August 6, 2007 The human hand is a magnificent triumph of evolution, combining a complex structure with incredible levels of facility and feedback to enable a stunning range of movements and uses. Its flexibility and usefulness also makes it a debilitating body part to lose and a huge challenge for those involved in the development of bionic limb replacements. The latest innovation from Touch Bionics represents a major step forward in bionic hand development: with four smart motorized fingers and its unique multi-position motorized thumb, all operating from myoelectrically-detected nerve endings in the stump, the iLimb hand opens up a range of grips and fine motor abilities that prosthetic hands have never had before, like using a key in a lock, or one-fingered typing on a keyboard. Another important advance is the simple yet very effective feedback sensors in the fingers which control grip pressure to hold fragile items like styrofoam cups without dropping or crushing them. What's more, patients can choose between the iLimb hand's funky robotic look or another world first - an incredibly realistic skin that you can pull on to make it look almost identical to a real hand.Read More

Sugar is the key to the nicotine rush according to new research

July 27, 2007 Smoking and blood sugar levels are highly interrelated – nicotine causes the body to release satisfying levels of sugar into the bloodstream far faster than eating can, which explains its appetite-inhibiting effects. The results of low blood sugar levels in a quitting nicotine addict are also responsible for some of the most difficult withdrawal symptoms. Now it has been discovered that sugar is also a key element in the chemical reaction that causes a smoker to feel “high”. When nicotine molecules are received by neurotransmitter membranes, it’s sugar molecules that then act as a sort of hinge to open a gate in the cell membrane and send the "nicotine rush" nerve signal onward.Read More

CPU-controlled artificial leg offers new freedom of natural movement for amputees

July 27, 2007 Prosthetics is a fascinating field – science’s ability to mimic the complicated natural function of lost limbs can make a truly life-altering difference for amputees. Nowhere is this difference more strongly felt than in the field of artificial legs that get amputees out of wheelchairs, off crutches and back to a level of mobility that lets them blend back in into ordinary life. The latest drive towards the development of advanced prosthetics includes this new microchip-controlled artificial knee joint that’s opening up an unprecedented level of freedom of movement for above-knee amputees and allowing amputee servicemen to remain active in their jobs if they so choose. The US$30K hydraulic C-LEG’s CPU “brain” automatically adapts to changes of speed and direction, and can be pre-programmed into up to 10 switchable “modes” to enable natural driving, cycling and other programmable activities that require different leg actions to normal walking and stair climbing.Read More

Diet Coke turns 25

July 16, 2007 It’s just 25 years since Diet Coke burst onto the scene and forever changed the beverage landscape by catering to a society paying homage to a healthy lifestyle. So well did Diet Coke hit the mark that it is now a business school text book case study, as the most valuable brand extension in marketing history and the most successful launch in beverage history. The brand was launched in the United States on July 29, 1982, and was so immediately successful that it was followed just six months later with an international roll-out. By 1984, it was the number three sparkling beverage in the United States, a title it has held since. In 1986, it became the number one low-calorie sparkling beverage in the world. Today the brand, including both Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Light, is available in 173 countries and has a 40 percent share of the global diet sparkling beverage segment. For those who worship at the altar of smoke and mirrors, there’s a commemorative can. Read More

Strap-free heartrate monitor fits like a glove

July 12, 2007 Heart rate monitors have become an almost ubiquitous tool in fitness training, allowing athletes to ensure they're operating in the right BPM range to maximize the effectiveness of their cardio training or weight loss programs. The chest-strap used to take heart rate readings isn't universally popular though, as many find it uncomfortable and annoying. Adidas tried to solve this by building the sensor into a tight training shirt, NuMetrex built the sensor into a sports bra for women - and now Beurer has come up with a new system that fits as half a glove and reads heart rate from your index finger. The PM 100 beltless heartrate monitor uses photoplethysmography to determine your heart rate - it's effectively a flexible, soft equivalent of the plastic finger clip you get in hospital. While it won't be perfect for sportspeople that need to use their hands, those involved in running or other pure cardio exercise will likely find it a comfortable and no-fuss way to keep a constant tab on their heart rate.Read More

Bionic arm uses elephant’s trunk as a design model

July 4, 2007 The more we learn about intelligent design, the more we understand the engenuity of nature, and the latest lesson in this regard has come during the development of a bionic robot arm by German researchers. The technology is expected to be used in therapy to restore the use of injured limbs, and low-cost, flexible prosthetic devices. Such devices could be commercially available within two years. Read More

Handheld pulmonary drug delivery device could beat indoor smoking bans and assist quitters

July 3, 2007 Now here’s an interesting product which might find all manner of niche applications. Next Safety has created a handheld pulmonary drug delivery device that delivers extremely high arterial levels of nicotine – with effects felt less than ten seconds after inhalation – and provides higher psychoactive effects than cigarettes or any other tobacco product on the market. It is expected that the device, which is roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes, will substantially increase success rates for those who wish to quit smoking due to its ability to accurately duplicate the delivery of nicotine from tobacco smoke. Additionally, by delivering a high percentage of nicotine to the bloodstream, the use of the device is expected to cost less than 30 percent of the equivalent cost of cigarettes. We guess the same would be true for any other substances people smoked too. Hmmmm Could this be used indoors to beat the smoking bans implemented this week in the U.K. and Australia?Read More

My cousin slimey - the (very common) origins of the human brain

June 30, 2007 Say hello to your long lost cousin, the marine ragworm Platynereis dumerilii. Yes folks, if the thought of “good breeding” appeals to you, we have some humbling news. European researchers have found strong evidence the hypothalamus and other hormone-secreting brain centres are much older than previously believed and probably evolved from multifunctional cells of the last common ancestor of vertebrates, flies and worms. Hormones control growth, metabolism, reproduction and other biological processes and in all vertebrates (humans included), these chemical signals are produced by specialised brain centres such as the hypothalamus and distributed around the body via the blood stream. Researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] have now found that the evolutionary basis of these advanced brain centres were multifunctional neurons that sensed the environment and released hormones accordingly – so next time you swat that fly … Read More


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