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— Health & Wellbeing

The wistful sigh is really a survival mechanism

A sigh may do more for your health than provide emotional relief. Researchers in California claim to have identified the source of the sigh in the brain, which they say is a life-sustaining reflex for healthy lung functioning. Humans sigh around 12 times per hour to reinflate the half-billion or so tiny, balloon-like sacs in the lungs called alveoli, which are vital in regulating the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide. A sigh is mostly an involuntary deep breath, or a regular breath with another added on top before an exhale.

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— Medical

Hormone combo a triple threat to obesity and adult-onset diabetes

In 2012, we covered work led by Professor Richard DiMarchi that showed linking two hormones into a single molecule held promise as a treatment for obesity. DiMarchi followed this up last year by combining the properties of two endocrine hormones to provide an effective treatment for both obesity and adult-onset diabetes. Continuing in this vein, DiMarchi has now co-led a study whereby obesity and diabetes were effectively cured in lab animals by adding a third hormone to the molecular mix. Read More
— Medical

Peptide-based nanogel accelerates healing of burn wounds

Because second- and third-degree burns damage underlying layers of skin, they can take a long time to heal. Such extended healing periods are not only painful to the patient, but increase the risk of infection and scarring. While various medications are available to deal with pain and infection, there is currently no commercial treatment to speed up the rate of healing of burn wounds. Now researchers have developed a nanogel that could fill this hole. Read More
— Electronics

Nanodot-based smartphone battery that recharges in 30 seconds

Today at Microsoft’s Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot has demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in just under 30 seconds. With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car. Read More
— Science

Flesh-eating bacteria inspire highly selective instant adhesive that won't stick to fingers

A strong and highly selective instant adhesive inspired by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes has been developed by Oxford University researchers. S. pyogenes is a common resident of human throats that is normally kept in check by the body's defenses, but when it gets out of control it can cause diseases ranging from strep throat to toxic shock syndrome or flesh-eating disease. By engineering a protein that is central to S. pyogenes' infectious arsenal, the researchers have developed a new superglue that can't be matched for sticking molecules together and not letting go. Read More
— Science

Moth antennae inspire new Alzheimer's research tool

In order to detect the presence of nearby females, the male silk moth utilizes an oily coating on his antennae. Any female pheromone molecules that are in the air will stick to that coating, which then guides them through nanotunnels in the insect's exoskeleton, and ultimately to nerve cells that alert Mr. Moth to the fact that there are ladies in the area. It's a clever enough system that scientists from the University of Michigan have copied it, in hopes of better understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Read More
— Science

Frog skin provides crab-friendly alternative for detecting bacteria

Confused by that headline? It's simple really – when drugs and medical devices are tested for contamination, a substance called Limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is used. LAL is made from the blood cells of horseshoe crabs, which are caught along the U.S. Atlantic coast, drained of 30 percent of their blood, then returned to the water. Although the majority of the crabs survive the process, it has been estimated that at least 30 percent do not. This, in turn, is affecting populations of the red knot, a bird that feeds on horseshoe crab eggs. Now, engineers from Princeton University have discovered that a substance from the skin of the African clawed frog could be used instead of the crab blood – with no harm done to the frog. No word on whether eye of newt or wing of bat would work, too. Read More
— Science

New nano-material could lead to self-washing windows and solar panels

While attempting to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease researchers have discovered a new nanomaterial that can repel dust and water and could provide a self-cleaning coating for windows or solar panels. Unlike similar dust-busting materials that take inspiration from the surface of the lotus leaf, the new material is actually made up of molecules of peptides that “grow” to resemble small forests of grass. The coating also acts as a super-capacitor, thereby having implications for electric cars in that it could provide an energy boost to batteries. Read More
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