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Disease

Doctors could soon be diagnosing diseases using breathalyzer-like technology like that use...

Scientists – and dogs – have known for some time that our breath can reveal much more about us than our estimated blood alcohol content. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison believe that “breathalyzer”-like technology they currently have under development could be used to diagnose a wide range of diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and infections. Such technology, which relies on the fact that many diseases alter the body’s metabolism in distinctive ways, would provide a non-invasive method of detecting disease even before typical symptoms appear.  Read More

IBM scientists have created a flexible silicon probe, that could allow for more precise st...

IBM scientists in Zurich have created a proof-of-concept device, that could change the way that human tissue samples are analyzed. Presently, samples must be stained with a biomarker solution in order to detect the presence of a disease. The staining process can be quite involved, however, plus it is subject to error – too much of the solution can cause inaccurate results, for instance. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to perform enough tests using the small amount of tissue extracted in most biopsies. The IBM technology, though it still involves staining, is said to offer a potential solution to these shortcomings.  Read More

Left: Natural control mechanism blocks the enzyme's zinc active site Right: Novel antibody...

Researchers of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have achieved a significant new development which may have far reaching implications for the treatment of autoimmune diseases which attack the body's own tissue by mistake. The scientists have managed to convince the immune systems of mice to instead attack an enzyme significant to the body's autoimmune process known as matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9).  Read More

Unlocking the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme endomannosidase could lead to new ...

Viruses can enter the body via a number of pathways and while scientists have known how to block the main one used by viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Dengue Fever and West Nile virus for some time, these viruses are able to bypass this main pathway to replicate and cause disease via a second pathway by hijacking an enzyme known as endomannosidase. Now an international team of researchers has determined the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme endomannosidase, opening the door for new treatments to a variety of deadly viruses through the development of inhibitors that block this bypass route.  Read More

Aedes aegypti, the #1 disease vector for dengue fever (Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, publ...

War, plague, famine, heart disease, cigarettes, road trauma: six very effective killers of human beings. But they're all amateurs when their records are compared to the number one mass murderer of all time. The humble mosquito, and the deadly diseases it carries, is estimated to have been responsible for as many as 46 billion deaths over the history of our species. That staggering number is even more frightening in context - it means that mosquitoes are alleged to have killed more than half the humans that ever lived. So if any species deserves the full wrath of human technology, this is the one. And here, it seems, is how we might take our revenge - genetically modified strains of mosquito that are designed to cripple their own offspring and systematically destroy entire populations. And these mutant, auto-genocidal mozzies are already loose in the wild.  Read More

Star Syringes' K1 Auto Disposable syringe can only be used once, to reduce the spread of d...

In these days of reducing, reusing and recycling, it may seem strange that anyone would be going out of their way to make a potentially reusable product disposable. It all makes sense, however, when that product is a syringe. According to the World Health Organization, every year approximately 1.3 million people die worldwide, due to diseases contracted through the reuse of syringes. Part of this can be chalked up to needle-sharing by users of illicit intravenous drugs, but much of it is due to health care workers (particularly those with little training or in impoverished conditions) using the same syringe to inoculate multiple patients. If a syringe simply ceases to function after one use, however, reusing it is impossible. That’s the idea behind Star Syringes’ K1 Auto Disposable syringe.  Read More

In many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient...

Whatever you call it - lavatory, privy, latrine, crapper, loo or dunny - most of us take the humble toilet for granted. But in many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient, it can cause deadly diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid and cholera. Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items. Now, as part of a broad ranging project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deshusses has received $100,000 to perfect and test the system in the laboratory before producing a prototype to field-test in 18 months time.  Read More

A new technique uses light to differentiate between healthy (top) and misshapen (bottom) r...

Ordinarily, red blood cells should look like a disc with a medium-sized dimple on the top and bottom. If that dimple is either too large or too small, it can indicate the presence of a disease such as sickle cell anemia or malaria. Pathologists traditionally have had to examine blood samples under a microscope, manually looking for these misshapen cells. A new technique developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, uses light to automatically detect such cells within seconds.  Read More

During the first 15 years of the Tobacco Control Program in California, which cost in the ...

In the past decade a line has been drawn in the sand in most major cities. Tax revenues from cigarettes are higher than ever, and most bars and restaurants no longer allow smoking within their confines. The days of smoking being the social norm are quickly turning into times when those lighting-up are viewed as an outcast minority, and when it comes to quitting, the evidence is clear that it's not just the smokers themselves who stand to benefit.  Read More

Five skeletal remains from the East Smithfield site (Photo: Museum of London)

It's hard to comprehend the impact of the Black Death. The "Great Pestilence" is believed to have originated somewhere in Northern Asia in the 1330s before hitting Europe in 1347. It killed an estimated 75 million people worldwide - that's around 25 per cent of all humans in existence at the time. Now in an effort to better understand modern infectious diseases, scientist have sequenced the entire genome of the Black Death.  Read More

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