Monthly Archives: March 2015

Possible prevention of Alzheimer’s – ‘Brichos’

The research was carried out by an international team comprising academics from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Lund University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Tallinn University.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of a number of conditions caused by naturally occurring protein molecules folding into the wrong shape and then  or nucleating  with other proteins to create thin filamentous structures called amyloid fibrils. Proteins perform important functions in the body by folding into a particular shape, but sometimes they can misfold, potentially kick-starting this deadly process

These researchers have found a molecule that can block the progress of Alzheimer’s disease at a crucial stage in its development, called ‘Brichos’. ‘Brichos’ is a molecule which has been shown to be effective at inhibiting the mechanisms which trigger the aggregation of the amyloid beta proteins. ‘Brichos’ prevents the amyloid fibrils from coming into contact with other proteins, thereby helping to avoid the formation of highly toxic clusters that enable the condition to proliferate in the brain.

By discovering this molecule, scientists have moved closer to identifying a substance that could eventually be used to treat the disease.

This breakthrough is certainly a very exciting finding, but it must be stressed that this study is still in its infancy and more research is required before ‘Brichos’ can be considered a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers have now planned to undertake more studies to confirm their findings.

Thank you for reading.

Ebola

What is Ebola?

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a severe and often fatal illness in humans.

EVD first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

Transmission

It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact, through broken skin or mucous membranes, with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.

People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

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Symptoms 

Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Weakness

Over time, symptoms become increasingly severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea (may be bloody)
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes, and bruising (people near death may bleed from other orifices, such as ears, nose and rectum)
  • Internal bleeding

Prevention and control

To help stop the spread of the virus, we need to focus on:

  • Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
  • Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
  • Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.

 

Thank you for reading.

SMART Bandages

I recently came across this in BBC News and found the concept extremely fascinating..

SMART (Sensing, Monitoring and Release of Therapeutics) bandages have the ability to analyse wounds. They work by glowing to indicate a wound’s tissue oxygenation concentration.

How does it work?

The key to these bandages is phosphors, a molecule that absorbs light and then emits it via phosphorescence. The bandage is applied by ‘painting’ it onto the skin”s surface as a viscous liquid which dries to a solid thin film within a minute. Once the first layer has fired, a transparent barrier layer is then applied onto to protect the film and slow the rat of oxygen exchange between the bandage and room air, thus making the bandage sensitive to the oxygen within tissue.

The final piece involves a camera-based readout device which performs two functions:

  • provides a burst of excitation light that triggers the emission of the phosphors inside the bandage
  • records the phosphors’ emission

The emitted light is bright enough that it can be acquired using a result camera or mobile phone, opening the possibility to a portable, field-opening device.

Immediate Applications

This includes monitoring patients with a risk of developing ischemic conditions, postoperative monitoring of skin grafts or flaps, and burn-depths determination as a guide for surgical debridement (the removal of dead or damaged tissue from the body).

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Thank you for reading.

The Science behind the Dress

 

If you are breaking a sweat as to what colour this dress is, fear not I have the answer..

The colour of the dress is related to the way our eyes and brains work. The photoreceptors covert light rays into nerve signals which are then processed by nerve cells in the inner retina, sent to the brain, and then translated as images.

The two types of photoreceptor cells are known as rods and cones. Rods are responsible for peripheral and night vision, they detect brightness and shades of grey whilst cones are responsible for day vision and colour perception.

We have three types of cones, each is tuned  to pick up green, red or blue wavelengths of light. When light hits our eyes, the receptors turn these colours into electrical signals that are sent to the brain. Our brains determine the colour that we see by blending the signals that each receptor senses.

The lighting of the image, which is a bluish tint, appears to make the blue part look white and the black part looks gold. Some people’s brains are deciding that there is less reflection on a well lit blue and black dress. However, those who see it as white and gold are viewing it as if it is in shadow, but is more reflected. Our individual sensitivity to the blue background lighting of the photo is changing how we see the object in the image.

the dress

 

Thank you for reading.