Posts from the ‘medicine’ Category


A large majourity of viruses display full icosahedral symmetry – argubally the highest and most aestetically pleasing symmetry that appears in nature.  

Viruses are just too sweet to the OCD crowd.

One of the lesser known issues many Africans face is vitamin A deficiency, a leading cause of blindness. More than a million African children go blind every year as a result, and two-thirds die within months.

A common crop in African villages, the sweet potato could be the answer. Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, and is what gives both sweet potatoes and carrots their orange hue. Researchers have naturally bred a line of potatoes that produces four to six times more beta carotene than control samples. 

A study comprising of more than 10,000 Ugandan households found that vitamin A deficiency was reduced by 40% after switching to the experimental potatoes. 

Similar efforts are being made in eastern Asia with Golden Rice, a rice line with 30 micrograms of beta carotene added. 

Look a little gross? That’s because this lump is not only a brain, but one that is almost 2,700 years old. It was preserved after its home skull was dropped into an oxygen deprived pit of water, probably the result of its owner being hanged and then decapitated.

Scientists described it as “odorless…with a resilient, tofu-like texture.” Yum!

Scientists are learning how to grow custom-made body parts so they can be ready when you—and your vital organs—start falling apart. At the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor and her colleagues strip organs of their cells, reseed the organ “skeletons” with living cells, and watch as the organs start working right in front of their eyes. more here


Retinal Fireworks

Retinal ganglion cells transmit signals from the rods and cones in the eye to the brain. The retinal ganglion cells shown here have the extraordinary property that their dendrites all point in a single direction. Remarkably, these neurons respond best to objects moving in the direction that the cells “point.”

In this particular image, a mouse retina is seen with “J” retinal ganglion cells marked by the expression of a fluorescent protein. Of course, in real eyes it’s not that simple – the millions of other neurons that these are entangled with are not marked, and thus appear invisible. The image was obtained with a confocal scanning microscope, and pseudocoloured.

Part of the Cell Picture Show’s amazing Brainbow series.


cool hand angiography

An angiography is the imaging of blood vessels, usually by injecting a radio-opaque fluid into the veins and then x-raying them. This patient has a finger angioma, where a benign tumor has developed and resulted in an unusual clogging of vessels.

I think my favorite part is the delicate delta of veins under the thumbnail though.

Just a nice GIF of a white blood cell mercilessly pursuing an invading bacteria through a field of red blood cells.

Basically, each of the pathogens (bacteria) let off a chemical “scent” that the white blood cell is attracted to and chases. Similarly, the white blood cell has a chemical marker that the bacteria can pick up on, but instead it moves away. 


Geneticist Runs Personalized Medicine Superstudy On Himself

Michael Snyder has taken “know thyself” to the next level — and helped heal thyself.

Over a 14-month period, the molecular geneticist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, analyzed his blood 20 different times to pluck out a wide variety of biochemical data depicting the status of his body’s immune system, metabolism, and gene activity. In today’s issue of Cell, Snyder and a team of 40 other researchers present the results of this extraordinarily detailed look at his body, which they call an integrative personal omics profile (iPOP) because it combines cutting-edge scientific fields such as genomics (study of one’s DNA), metabolomics (study of metabolism), and proteomics (study of proteins). Instead of seeing a snapshot of the body taken during the typical visit to a doctor’s office, iPOP effectively offers an IMAX movie, which in Snyder’s case had the added drama of charting his response to two viral infections and the emergence of type 2 diabetes.

(Read more of the Wired Magazine Article)

The work being done in the ‘omics is fascinating, and I don’t think it will be too long before this kind of testing is standard for occasional checkups, much like physicals are today. The danger is the inevitable discrimination that will result, and the remedy for that is educating our current and future policy makers and managers to avoid that mistake.


Supersize vs. Superskinny

It almost looks like the fat is drawn on..a little diet and exercise will do wonderful things you guys.

The skeletons of some popular animated characters. The realization of how big the PowerPuff Girls’ eyes are is a little disconcerting. Artwork by Michael Paulus!