Health & Wellbeing

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

The Kohler C3 Toilet Seat with remote control

June 27, 2007 Given that we’ve spent a lot of time recently convincing our readers to invest money in logical places where they spend a lot of time and can hence significantly enhance wellbeing (in bed) and productivity (their computer screen), at first glance we figured that justifying a high tech toilet seat was going to be tough. Applying our usual bang-per-buck rule though, the Kohler C3 Toilet Seat is a ripper – retrofitting onto almost any toilet, the heated seat has three temperature settings, bidet functionality, a warm-air fan for partial drying, a lighted bowl that eliminates the need to turn on a light at night, a deodorizer that minimizes unpleasant odors, a Quiet-Close cover that prevents slamming and a remote control. Just like the seating/driving/heating in a luxury auto, you can have “personal settings” adjustable by a remote control. If keeping up with the Jones is your game, this is a winner! Read More

Should children be spared the pain of the needle?

June 27, 2007 Most adults hate doctor’s needles and for children the fear is even more acute. But are they always the best form of treatment? A world-first study published by the University of Nottingham suggests that in some cases children who are spared this pain are more likely to recover faster. The research found that children suffering from pneumonia – a disease that affects two-and-a-half million children each year in Europe alone – who were given oral treatment as an alternative to injections recovered as quickly, suffered less pain, required less oxygen therapy in hospital and were able to go home sooner.Read More

Pain Decreases under Hypnosis

June 26, 2007 Hypnosis is a process in which critical thinking faculties of the mind are bypassed and a type of selective thinking and perception is established. The term hypnosis was coined by Scottish physician, James Braid, using the Greek word for sleep for the technique which he pioneered as a surgical anaesthetic. Last week a university study presented to the European Neurological Society meeting in Rhodos demonstrated that hypnosis can offer significant reduction in pain awareness without any effect on non-painful aspects of the subject's perception. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain activity, the studies found hypnosis reduced acute pain perception by about a third.Read More

New research reveals the effects of ecstasy on memory function

June 25, 2007 Research carried out at the University of Hertfordshire (U.K.) has revealed that ecstasy users have significantly impaired memory compared with non-ecstasy users. The research report suggests that the recreational use of ecstasy produces a moderate to large effect on short-term and long-term memory and verbal memory, but not on visual memory. In over three-quarters of ecstasy users, long and short-term verbal memory is below the average of non-ecstasy using controls. Perhaps even more alarming in an era of recreational drug experimentation, the researchers also found that memory impairment was unrelated to the total number of ecstasy tablets consumed.Read More

Taking animals out of laboratory research

June 24, 2007 Pioneering work to reduce the use of animals in scientific research — and ultimately remove them from laboratories altogether — has received a major boost. A laboratory at the University of Nottingham devoted to finding effective alternatives to animal testing has been remodelled in a major overhaul designed to hasten the development of effective non-animal techniques. Scientists hope that by developing the use of cell and tissue cultures, computer modelling, cell and molecular biology, epidemiology and other methods, they will one day be able to completely remove animals from medical research — while still maintaining crucial work to defeat diseases that affect millions of people. The new FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) Alternatives Laboratory, within the University's Medical School, will opened on July 6.Read More

Just how hard can the hitman hit – be scared, very scared!

June 24, 2007 IBO junior welterweight world titleholder Ricky “Hitman” Hatton is renowned for his sledgehammer punches which have seen him go throughout his boxing career undefeated, winning 32 of his 44 fights by knockout. The speed and power of the Hitman’s hits were recently measured in a series of university tests - his brutal right hand was found to deliver a punch with around 400Kg of force – more than twice the kicking force of a professional footballer. Compounding the problems of his opponents even further, his blistering left hook was clocked at 32mph, which means his rivals have a lot less than one tenth of second to get out of the way. As if to underline that his nickname is no misnomer, last night the 5 ft 7 inch Hitman put away Jose Luis Castillo with a crushing body shot to the ribs in the fourth round of a world title fight. Castillo had NEVER before failed to go the distance in a 17-year boxing career.Read More

New flu vaccine could provide immunity against all strains of influenza virus

June 19, 2007 A significant new flu vaccine with the potential to protect against all strains of influenza, including pandemic and annual, was unveiled yesterday. Previously undisclosed pre-clinical data showing how PepTcell’s FLU-v vaccine has such groundbreaking and lifesaving potential was presented at the 2007 Options for the Control of Influenza Conference, in Toronto, Canada. The results show that a vaccine targeted at parts of the virus which do not change from year-to-year, can be effective against lethal influenza strains.Read More

New research provides early warning for drug addiction

June 18, 2007 Russian researchers have developed a new technique for detecting occasional drug taking. While clearly having ramifications for high-profile sports and other arenas where drug testing has become an essential tool, it is hoped that the new method can assist in treatment of the disease in its early stages by detecting the presence of drugs before substance abuse reaches more frequent (and dangerous) levels.Read More

Exercise under your desk while you work

June 18, 2007 The adverse effects of a sedentary, desk-bound lifestyle are well documented - weight gain, lack of energy, concentration issues and poor health result when we spend the larger proportion of the day not moving. Here's an interesting way to tackle the problem - the Webble is a cute little footrest you place under your desk and push around with your feet, exercising your lower body and stomach muscles through the day as you go.Read More


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