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Health & Wellbeing

Using light to entrain the body's internal clock

June 2, 2007 Our body's biological clock influences a wide range of factors, including hormone levels, cognitive performance and sleep structure. Left to itself, this internal clock has an average periodicity of a little over 24 hours. For this reason, it has to be calibrated by external factors known as 'zeitgebers', the most important of which is the light/dark cycle. When the biological clock is disrupted, declines in cognitive performance and difficulties sleeping are often the result. New research, funded by the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) through the EUCLOCK project has found that exposure to brief periods of extremely bright light a few hours before sleeping is enough to synchronise the body's internal clock to the required day length. Read More

DexCom’s 7-Day STS Continuous Glucose Monitoring System

June 1, 2007 DexCom has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for SEVEN, its seven-day STS Continuous Glucose Monitoring System. SEVEN is DexCom’s second generation device designed to help people with diabetes better understand and manage their diabetes and control their glucose levels. At the same time, DexCom received FDA approval for its DM2 Data Manager software which allows continuous glucose data from the SEVEN receiver to be downloaded to a computer. The second generation software has new tools and analytical capabilities to provide further insight into an individual’s diabetes and facilitate more appropriate care. SEVEN and DM2 Data Manager will have a limited launch later this month. Read More

UCL scientist develops a measure of distraction

May 31, 2007 A scientific indicator of how easily distracted you are has been designed by a UCL (University College London) psychologist. It could be used as another assessment tool during the recruitment process and would have particular benefits in fields where employee distraction could lead to fatal errors. Some jobs, such as bus driver or pilot, put the employee in situations where the potential for distraction is very high and yet focused attention is crucial. This computer-based test, which measures subjects’ accuracy and reaction times when they are exposed to distractions, would effectively filter out any candidates who were easily distracted.Read More

World Population Becomes More Urban Than Rural

May 29, 2007 A major milestone occurred last week, when the earth’s population became more urban than rural – though only a symbolic date calculated from an estimation, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, represents a major demographic milestone and is sometimes referred to as the “Urban Millennium.” The last century has seen the rapid urbanization of the world’s population", as the global proportion of urban population rose from 13% (220 million) in 1900, to 29% (732 million) in 1950, to 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. By 2050 over 6 billion people, two thirds of humanity, will be living in towns and cities.Read More

Genome sequence of the world's most lethal toxin

May 28, 2007 Botulism toxin is the deadliest poison on the planet. 2kg of it is enough to kill every person on the planet - although this doesn't stop the rich and tasteless from injecting it into their faces as Botox, where it stops nerves from working and has a slight smoothing effect on wrinkles. The toxin is produced by the Clostridium Botulinum bacteria - and scientists at the UK's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have just completed some fascinating genome research on the development of this incredibly effective killer and its survival mechanisms. Where some bacteria use complex and even elegant methods to dance around our immune systems, C. Botulinum goes for the direct hit with a "microbial sledgehammer." More please, just around the jawline.Read More

Smart clothing that takes biochemical medical observations through the day

May 28, 2007 We've been speaking recently with a couple of innovative companies who are taking different angles on how wearable medical observation apparatus can be used in sport and medicine. Now, an EU-funded project is setting out to take the next step - creating comfortable clothing with the built-in ability to measure a range of physiological data using intelligent textiles instead of bulky apparatus. Comfortable and unobtrusive biochemical measurement equipment could play a significant role in preventative and recovery medicine, among other areas.Read More

Vaccine hope for malaria

May 25, 2007 Malaria is a public health problem in more than 90 countries and it is by far the world's most important tropical parasitic disease. It kills more people than HIV or any other communicable disease except tuberculosis. It infects 400 million people every year and kills one person every 30 seconds, with the vast majority under five years old. Now, just over 100 years since Britain's Sir Ronald Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize for finally proving that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, researchers at the University of Nottingham believe they have made a significant breakthrough in the search for an effective vaccine.Read More

Swedish researchers develop digital color x-rays

May 23, 2007 The advantages of color x-rays may not be immediately obvious but the developments in this field led by researchers at Mid Sweden University promise some exciting new possibilities for medical diagnoses much smaller x-rays doses for patients, much higher resolution and the ability to detect tumors at a much earlier stage. Digital color x-rays are based on the same advanced technology that is used when nuclear physicists look for new elementary particles. The greatest scientific challenge in constructing a color x-ray camera is to be able to shrink the large-scale detection equipment used by nuclear physicists to the microscopic format. The readout electronics for each pixel in the camera’s picture sensor must be squeezed into an area of 55 x 55 µm, and what’s more be x-ray safe. Read More

Developing a viable cure for office worker obesity

May 22, 2007 Sitting still at a desk all day - like you're probably doing right now - is making the average office worker fatter and less healthy than we've ever been before. Gym workouts and regular exercise are not the key to breaking out of this cycle - a new study suggests that it's the sitting down that's killing us, and that a simple change to spending 2-3 hours a day gently walking at around 1mph while we work could help obese office workers lose up to 30kg a year. Dr. James Levine devised the walk-at-work treadmill to test the effectiveness of getting office workers off their butts - with fantastic results.Read More

Electronic glove ensures CPR is being done correctly

May 21, 2007 Only 6 months after learning life-saving CPR techniques, around 60 percent of first aiders - including doctors and nurses - forget how to do it correctly. As a result, survival rates from cardiac arrests remain low. The Canadian CPR Glove acts as a quick on-the-job refresher course, making sure the first aider administers the correct frequency and depth of chest compression. It's a simple and cheap device that has real potential to save lives if included in a first aid kit.Read More

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