Broken Bones


How do broken bones heal? Read more to find out!

Bone is found in every body and is living and growing tissue consisting of collagen and calcium.

When a bone breaks, the first thing that occurs is bleeding. Then, this clotted blood collects together around the fractured bone (this is known as Hematoma and results in inflammation). Stem cells, bone marrow and blood surround the fractured bone and starts the processes of bone formation and cartilage formation.

New bone first starts to form at the edges of the fracture and soft cartilage is made between the broken ends of the bone around 8 days after the initial injury. However, because cartilage alone is not strong enough to provide enough strength to bones, the soft cartilage is replaced with hard callus and then eventually, new mature bone starts to bone. Interestingly, fractured bones can take up to several years to heal, depending on the size and location of the fracture.

When complications occur and the bone is not able to heal properly, significant health problems can occur. These fractures take abnormal amounts of time to heal, or may not even heal at all. If non-healing fractures occur in areas that are used a lot (for example in the shinbone) an operation may be needed by using bone from somewhere else in the body, bone from a donor, or a 3D printed bone (only used for major factors where a large amount of bone tissue has been lost).

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Energy Drinks Increase Risk of Drug Use?


New research from the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland in College Park has shown that adults who have energy drinks regularly are more likely to use illegal substances and drink alcohol excessively in later life.

Energy drinks are most popular in teenagers and young adults, and through continuous research on these groups of people, it is hoped that regulations will be made on energy drinks to reduce the amount of flushing, headaches, abnormal heart rates, nausea, lethargy, loss of consciousness, and, in the most severe cases, death that is caused by them.

During the study, it was found that participants who had a persistent trajectory of energy drink consumption had a much higher risk of being diagnosed alcohol use disorder at age 25.  In addition, an intermediate amount of energy drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of using drugs such as cocaine and NPS.

From this study, the researchers hope that future studies will focus on younger people and find ways to reduce the positive correlation between energy drinks and drug/alcohol use.

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Probiotics instead of Antibiotics?


As many people already know, the need to find new antibiotics is an urgent priority. Many bacteria are resistant to current antibiotics and therefore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat them. Of course, efforts are being made to try and find new antibiotics. However, it seems that probiotic bacteria could infact help to prevent life-threatening infections.

Bacteria naturally have antibacterial properties in order to compete with other bacteria for dominance over living space and food. As a result of this, Catherine O’Neill, Ph.D. – senior lecturer in the Division of Musculoskeletal and Dermatological Science at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom decided to set up a team and try to use these antibacterial properties in order to combat pathogenic infections. Catherine used lactobacillus bacteria, a group of ‘friendly’ bacteria, and through this, it was shown that bacteria could in fact protect skin cells from an infection by S. aureus (a type of bacteria that is one of the five most common causes of infection after injury or surgery).

To investigate this even further, further studies have been done to test the effects of probiotics in mouse models in relation to the healing of burns and wounds. These studies have shown that probiotics can increase levels of oxytocin – a hormone important in reproduction, childbirth, lactation, and social behaviour – which leads to faster wound healing in older mice.

Now, moving onto humans. A study led by Dr. Valdéz found that in patients with second and third degree burns, probiotics can be as efficient as commonly used antimicrobials in preventing and reducing burn wounds. In addition to this, a clinical study in the Journal of Burn Care & Research showed that ‘the wounds of patients treated with probiotics healed at a faster rate than those of patients treated with a placebo.’

Even after so much success with the use of probiotics, its proper use will only come into the picture with more evidence. After all, bacteria are known to be more harmful than good. But even so, alternatives to antibiotics are desperately needed so maybe, the use of probiotics instead of antibiotics will become prominent.

Thank you for reading my blog this week, I hope you found it an interesting read! If you did, feel free to comment down your opinion or any questions below.



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Cause of Schizophrenia found in Type of Brain Cell


What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is described as “a severe long-term mental health condition” or type of psychosis that stops the individual from distinguishing their thoughts from reality. People with schizophrenia tend to experience hallucinations, delusions and muddled thoughts, and are treated with medication and therapy.

The Cause of Schizophrenia

A study lead by Dr Goldman, neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, was published in the journal Cell and suggests that the dysfunction of the brains glial cells (neutrons that make up supportive tissue in the brain) could be the cause of symptoms of childhood-onset schizophrenia; this type of schizophrenia is a rare form started in children before their 13th birthday.

During the metal development of the brain, glial cells form from  a type of pluripotent stem cell called ‘glial progenitor cells’. Genetic mutations in these glial progenitor cells stop the proper functioning of the glial cells, thus causing schizophrenia.

The Model on Mice

Dr Goldman implanted human glial cells into a rodent’s brain that had been formed from progenitor cells of human patients with childhood-onset schizophrenia. This showed that the glial cells from the schizophrenia patients were clearly abnormal – the signalling between the neutrons was damaged and there were many underdeveloped cells. In addition to this, the mice with cells from schizophrenia patients displayed higher levels of anxiety and fear, sleep disorders and deficient sensory-motor coordination – these traits are all symptoms of schizophrenia.

Dr Goldman said that he hopes this important discovery will help to discover new potential treatments to schizophrenia. For example, substances that will fix the chemical imbalances triggered by dysfunctional glial cells. He said:

“The findings of this study argue that glial cell dysfunction may be the basis of childhood-onset schizophrenia […] The inability of these cells to do their job, which is to help nerve cells build and maintain healthy and effective communication networks, appears to be a primary contributor to the disease.”

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Could Smelling Food Lead to Weight Gain?


A new research led by Andrew Dillin, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that mice that cannot smell their food do not gain weight, even after being fed a high-fat diet.

It was already known that the sense of smell helps us to select and heighten the appreciation of food. However, to investigate the role of the nose even more, the researchers made a mouse model where the mice were genetically engineered to lack olfactory receptor neurones in the nasal cavity that send messages to the brain. During this experiment, the mice without a sense of smell ate just as much as the control mice but did not gain weight. One example of the experiments done on the mice is as follows: two mice that had both been fed the same high-fat diet became obese, with only one of the mice having their sense of smell switched off. This mouse’s weight decreased by approximately a third, reaching a weight of 33 grams. By contrast, the mouse that retained its sense of smell also retained its weight of 49 grams.

The researchers have come to the conclusions that the absence of the sense of smell increased sympathetic nervous system activity, as well as increasing levels of adrenaline that is known to activate fat burning. As Professor Dillin puts it:

“The mice with no sense of smell had turned on a program to burn fat,”

If this result can be replicated in humans, a new form of treatment for people suffering with eating disorders will be available by which food cravings can be reduced and weight can be managed healthily.

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Why Does Hair Turn Grey?


Hair is made of keratin, a tough protein, and grows at different rates in different people. Hair is anchored into the skin via a hair follicle, the hair follicle is placed on the hair bulb, and in the hair bulb living cells divide and grow to build the hair shaft.

Hair colour is caused due to pigmentation. Pigment-producing melanocytes produce melanin in the hair follicle as our hair grows, resulting in our hair colour being formed as well as increasing hair length. On average, the rate of hair growth is around one centimetre per month. However, as our cells start to become damaged during our lifetime, the melanocytes stop working efficiently and become lost. When all the melanocytes are lost in a particular hair follicle, the next hair that grows will be gray or white.

There are two main hair colour pigment types – eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin produces black and brown colours whereas pheomelanin produces orange and yellow colours. Our genes determine a specific mixture of these pigments to each individual, giving each of us our unique hair colour (although hair colour tends to be similar within families). The exact mechanisms that control pigmentation have not been found out yet, however it is believed to be linked to highly efficient communication between cells in the hair follicle.

Hair progenitor cells release a protein called stem cell factor which enables the production of pigment of pigment. If this protein is absent, hair colour will be lost. In addition, when hair growth stops melanocytes naturally die and when a new set of melanocytes are produced in the next hair growth cycle, the hair produced either lacks colour or looks grey/white. The hair follicles of uncoloured hair have absent melanocytes and excess cellular damage.

So, in a nutshell, ageing causes pigment cells to die, causing out hair to turn grey. Now, more importance is being put into research based on why some people start to lose hair colour in their 20’s and others later on in life. Recent research has hinted that variance in the gene  interferon regulatory factor 4 could play a significant pat in early greying.

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Heart Valve Replacements Using 3D Modelling


3D printing technology has allowed researchers to find most successful ways of boosting the success rate of aortic valve replacements. The models could enable doctors to predict how well a prosthetic heart valve will fit a patient, thus lessening the chance of paravalvular leakage – ‘blood flows through a channel between the implanted valve and cardiac tissue as a result of a lack of appropriate sealing’. Paravalvular leakage increases the risk of heart failure.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a surgical procedure that replaces the damages aortic valve with a new replacement prosthetic aortic valve. This prosthetic valve is supposed to expand once inserted and work as efficiently as a normal aortic valve. However, due to the risk of paravalvular leakage it was realised that there is a need for a better and more successful way of predicting the fit of a prosthetic valve. As a result, study co-author Zhen Qian, chief of Cardiovascular Imaging Research at Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, GA, and colleagues have developed 3-D heart valve models in order to simulate the heart valve tissue based on 18 patients who had TAVR. The team said:

“Our method of creating these models using metamaterial design and multi-material 3-D printing takes into account the mechanical behavior of the heart valves, mimicking the natural strain-stiffening behavior of soft tissues that comes from the interaction between elastin and collagen, two proteins found in heart valves.”

After this, medical imaging and computer software was used in addition to radiopaque beads that identify any problems with the fit of the heart-valve mimicking tissue. This created a bulge index which, in short, brought about this conclusion. The greater the bulge index score, the higher their severity of paravalvular leakage. This method of testing severity of paravalvular leakage has been discovered to be more accurate that using levels of calcium buildup on the damaged heart valve.

The researchers have said that this finding is very encouraging and could potentially transform care for patients who undergo TAVR.

“Even though this valve replacement procedure is quite mature, there are still cases where picking a different size prosthetic or different manufacturer could improve the outcome, and 3-D printing will be very helpful to determine which one,” — Zhen Qian

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Déjà Vu


What is Déjà Vu?

Déjà vu means “already seen” and is a feeling of nostalgia that, according to various surveys, has been experienced by almost two thirds of people.

Factors affecting Déjà Vu

Age: Déjà vu is usually more common in younger ages

Gender: Déjà vu is just as common in men as it is in women

Social: Déjà vu is more common in more educated individuals

Travels: People who travel more frequently are more likely to experience déjà vu.

Stress: Some studies have shown that déjà vu is more common in tired or stressed individuals.

Drugs: There are certain drugs that, when taken, increase the possibility of experiencing déjà vu. These drugs include amantadine and phenylpropanolamine.

Where does déjà vu occur in the brain?

Déjà vu is said to be mainly involved with the temporal lobes and the entorhinal cortices (part of the temporal lobe involved with memory formation and certain brain disorders).

Causes of Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu has been been associated with four main ’causes’:

Dual Processing

  • Two cognitive processes that are usually separate, unite for a moment.
  • Like a tape recorder, we have a ‘recording’ head and a ‘playing’ head which operate separately. However, sometimes both of these heads can accidentally function together, creating a false sense of familiarity.
  • As we perceive events, memories are formed alongside. However, when we are tired, it is possible for the memory to be made at the exact same time as we perceive our surroundings so our perception sees the present moment as a memory.


  • Déjà vu can be logically described as a minor type of seizure or epilepsy, although there is no data to back this up.
  • Déjà vu is information that travels from the eye through a number of pathways. If this information from two different pathways arrives to the brain at different times, the brain could perceive the second message as old information.


  • A feeling of déjà vu can spark if someone sees something similar to something they have seen previously.
  • A feeling of déjà vu can spark by seeing something familiar in an unfamiliar location. For example, if we were to see our mailman at the front door of our house – a very familiar scene – it would not produce a sense of familiarity. However, if we were to see our mailman unexpectedly, such as if we were on holiday out of town, it would evoke a sense of familiarity.

Attentional explanations

  • Imagine someone witnesses something but doesn’t pay full attention to it. If the same scene is perceived again but this time with full perception, the second perception will match the first one will accidentally assume that the dust perception is much older than it truly is, thus triggering déjà vu.

Future research

Although many theories have already been presented on the cause for déjà vu, none of them have been proven yet and there is still scope for error among existing theories. Further research and studies will still need to be done to ensure the accurate cause (or maybe even causes) of déjà vu is discovered.

Thank you for reading this blog, if you found it interesting feel free to leave a rating and comment down below any of your own personal experiences with déjà vu!



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The Art of Multitasking


Multitasking allows people to do more than one task at the same time, and is seen as a very efficient method of working. The art of multitasking is, in fact, very hard to master and most people fail to achieve it properly. The aim of multitasking is to conduct two jobs simultaneously, not just switch between each of the tasks and refocus concentration each time.

When the brain switches focus to deal with multiple tasks, this is known as interference and none of the tasks are learnt efficiently. This is because the  tasks “compete” to become the more prominent memory in the brain, which can ultimately reduce productivity by about 40 percent.

Due to this hugely common problem, a study was led by tudent Jasmine Herszage and Dr. Nitzan Censor, of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience in Israel in order to find a way to learn more efficiently and “reactivate the learned memory”. Dr Nitzan Censor said:

Our research demonstrates that the brief reactivation of a single learned memory, in appropriate conditions, enables the long-term prevention of, or immunity to, future interference in the performance of another task performed in close conjunction.”

As part of the study, participant were taught a sequence of finger movements on one hand. Once this had been learned. the participants were also asked to do the sequence on the other hand. These two tasks were able to be done without interference due to the original member (being able to do the sequence on one hand) being reactivated (being able to do the sequence on the other hand). This prevention of interference lasted for 1 month after the first task had initially been learned.

Dr Censor explains:

“The second task is a model of a competing memory, as the same sequence is performed using the novel, untrained hand. In other words, when a learned memory is reactivated by a brief cue or reminder, a unique time-window opens up. This presents an opportunity to interact with the memory and update it – degrade, stabilize, or strengthen its underlying brain neural representations. We utilized this knowledge to discover a mechanism that enabled long-term stabilization, and prevention of task interference in humans.”

It is hoped that this finding can be used clinically to help people undergoing  rehabilitation following brain injuries that impact memory in the future.

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How Does the Brain Respond to Exercise?


A group of research scientists at the Centre of Neural Science at New York University (NYU) in New York City have carried out a study to investigate what effect a single session of exercise does to a human. 

The researchers chose to focus on the effects of single session exercise as opposed to longer timing because it can be used to determine a better and more accurate understanding of longer exercise and if it will create long-term changes in the brain. As well as this, the scientists have also chosen to focus on behavioural changes in an attempt to find out the strengths and weaknesses of doing several single-session exercises rather than one long-session. The single session of aerobic exercise was approximated to be 1 hour long and through the study, it was found out that acute exercise improves mood, focus, and reduces stress.

Aerobic exercise has been shown to show positive results in three key areas: better executive function (the ability to plan, focus, and multitask), better mood, and lower stress levels. However, the most dramatic effect revealed from the study was the change in neurochemical levels -this includes dopamine (helps the brain to learn), serotonin (relieves anxiety and depression) and neuromodulators (“feel good” chemicals).

Wendy A. Suzuki, Ph.D., a professor of neural science and psychology in the Center for Neural Science at NYU and lead investigator said this:

Exercise interventions are currently being used to help address everything from cognitive impairments in normal aging […] to motor deficits in Parkinson’s disease and mood states in depression. Our review highlights the neural mechanisms and pathways by which exercise might produce these clinically relevant effects.”

The only potential difficulty for the researchers next is using these results found from rodents and using them to accurately identify behaviour in humans. As of yet, there is an insufficient amount of evidence regarding linkages between rodents and humans. However, the researchers are hoping this will soon change in the future.

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