research

Scientists are Growing Mini Brains to Study Neurological Disorders

  Austrian researchers are growing cerebral organoids, a form of human tissue that resembles a developing brain, in order to study neurological disorders. The organoids are developed from adult fibroblasts (skin cells) and manipulated into pluripotent stem cells, able to develop into a myriad of body parts. The researchers are able to coax the stem cells into becoming neurons which they study to learn more about neurological diseases like autism or schizophrenia as well as potential cure.   Click here to read an article about this research in Technology...

Is There Such a Thing As Screening for Cancer Too Early?

Starting medical school, conversations swirl around the necessity of when and who to screen for certain diseases, such as breast cancer. Many factors play a role in these decisions such as, average age of onset of a disease, sex, race, ethnicity, geography, and more complicated factors that doctors and scientists all try to take into account when determining when screening exams should be given and who they should be given to. In particular, the necessity of breast cancer screening has been frequently debated amongst the medical community. When to screen, and who will pay for the screening, have been amongst the most hotly debated topics centered around this issue.   A recent report from NPR has found that mammograms for women in their 40s have limited value according to a review from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  The WHO committee and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force agreed on the limited value of mammograms for women at this age but faced serious backlash for the financial implications these reviews could have. The study that the WHO IARC is basing their conclusions on found inadequate evidence that would support mammograms for women in their forties. Following these results, the US Task Force will then review public comments and responses before making their official recommendation. Whatever the recommendation may be, Congress can still mandate mammogram coverage...

The Science Behind Your Daily Cup of Joe

On average, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, the company sells approximately 30 cups of coffee per second! That is a wake up call in itself. Reddit | Gif-Me-A-Break That’s not counting Starbucks, and all of the other coffee houses and chains across the country and across the globe. It would be an understatement to say that students enjoy coffee, most thrive off of it. So, how does caffeine (unless you’re a decaf person) act on the brain to cause the positive effects many feel from coffee? Caffeine is itself a stimulant in the brain. According to Harvard Medical School, however, caffeine also blocks a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for inhibiting excitatory transmitters, such as dopamine, in the brain, that make you feel alert and happy. Caffeine blocks adenosine, therefore enabling the excitatory transmitters to be released at higher levels, thought to be responsible for the increased alertness and mood felt with caffeine. Caffeine may even help to improve learning and memory, within moderation that is. Both the FDA and the EFSA say that 400mg of caffeine is the max daily dosage one should reach: this is the equivalent of five espressos or two grande iced coffees from Starbucks. So, next time you are looking to wake up, drink up!...

Could Herpes Cure Skin Cancer?

Melanoma is the most serious and dangerous form of skin cancer. Over 70,000 individuals are diagnosed with invasive melanomas each year, according to cancer.org. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has reported that a genetically engineered herpes virus may be an effective treatment for melanoma, reports CBS News. The modified type 1 herpes virus destroys cancerous cells both alone and in conjunction with other immunotherapy treatments. These results are especially important for patients with inoperable tumors who could benefit from an alternative treatment. The treatment for one of the most common, fatal, and expensive cancers has proven successful in the third and final phase of clinical testing which is the last step before FDA approval.   Click here to check out the complete...

This Drug is No Better Than a Placebo Study Says

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are over three million cases of herniated discs in Americans each year. The oral steroid prednisone is a common treatment for this condition. Side effects can range from headache or increased back pain to nerve damage or spinal inflammation.   According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the oral steroid prednisone may not be effective in treating acute sciatica, reports The New York Times. In a study of 267 patients with a confirmed herniated disk, after three weeks of treatment there was no distinguishable difference in pain or disability reduction between those who received prednisone and those taking a placebo. After one year following treatment, the prednisone group exhibited slightly less disability, however, researchers doubted the significance of this finding given the distance from the trials. Check out the full article, here, and the JAMA study, here!...

Move Over Viagra: A Cup of Coffee May Solve ED

According to the NIH, approximately 5% of 40-year-old men and at least 15% of 65-year-old men have experienced erectile dysfunction (ED) on a recurring basis. The Cleaveland Clinic stated that as many as 70% of men 70 or older have experienced ED as a frequent issue. CNN reported that the cost of Viagra has tripled its original cost per pill, now at $22 per pill. Meanwhile, the success rate of Viagra ranges from 48% to 81%, depending on the age and medical history of the individual, according to several studies.   A recent study published in the journal PLOS One suggests that coffee can help reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, according to a report from CBS News. The authors analyzed data on more than 3,700 men who answered questionnaires about their caffeine intake in the previous 24 hours. It seemed that two or three cups of the caffeinated substance was the perfect amount for reducing the risk of impotence. Men who had an 85 to 170 mg intake of caffeine were 42 percent less likely to report erectile dysfunction than men who consumed less caffeine. Authors believe that coffee has this ability because it relaxes muscles and arteries in the penis, allowing for more blood flow and the ability to have an erection.   Check out the full study from PLOS ONE,...

The Cost of Obesity is More Than a Quarter-Pounder…

Over a third of American adults are obese: this is almost 100 million people. A recent report from the Brookings Institution estimated that the current cost of obesity per person is an astounding $92,235, calculated from medical expenses, days lost at work, and other avoidable disabilities that accompany obesity. If the nearly 13 million American children who are currently obese became obese adults, the total cost over their lifetimes could be nearly $1.1 trillion. And yet, the number of obese adults and children has been growing exponentially and is expected to continue on a similar path. Director of the Center on Social Dynamics and Policy and Brookings, Ross A. Hammond explains: “There is a growing sense that to do a better job of addressing obesity, we’re going to need coordination across many different policy arenas and potentially at many different levels of scale. And that’s hard to achieve, but may be the most important thing to try to do moving forward to address obesity.” So how do we address it? Obesity is a complex issue with roots beyond poor dietary choices. However, a movement that has gained recent momentum that I find conflicting as a future healthcare professional, is the fat acceptance movement. I do not believe that anyone should be criticized by peers for their size, shape, or weight. But if anyone has a role, if not a responsibility,...