The life span of a mouse is only two years. Researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh have used muscle stem cells from younger mice and injected into older mice diseased with a condition that ages them rapidly. These mice were genetically engineered to contract a condition similar to a rare human disease called progeria, in which children age quickly and die very young.
What they found is that these mice had a threefold increase in their life span, where they normally die in 21 days, was astoundingly increased to an average of 71 days. That would be the equivalent of an 80-year-old-human living to the age of 200. These animals not only lived longer, they were also healthier.
Stem cell expert John Huard, the co-author of the study said, “I’ve been doing science for the last 20 years. What makes the story so amazing is that in the beginning, I didn’t believe the result. I bet we mixed up the animals; you know, scientists are always skeptical.” The stem cells from the younger mice were injected into the fast-aging mice just four days before they were expected to die.
The team found that there were only a scant amount of the young cells in the organs of the aging-mice organs, so they theorized there may be some sort of anti-aging chemical being secreted by the young cells. To test the theory, they put the cells of the fast-aging mice on one side of a flask and stem cells from young mice on the other. In a matter of days, the aging cells began acting younger and started dividing more quickly. Huard said, “We can conclude that probably stem cells secrete something we don’t know that seems to improve the defects in those aging stem cells. If we can identify that, we have found an anti-aging protein that is going to be important.
Scientists must first repeat experiments with normally aging mice to determine if they would also live longer before any human anti-aging trials are done, and if it works, Huard could foresee where stem cells are harvested from a person at age twenty, then injected back into that person at age fifty.
To See or Not to See
A chip that is implanted into the eyes of blind patients resuls in useful vision only weeks after surgery. Two blind patients, Robin Miller, 60 and Chris James, were fitted with the electronic implants in a UK clinical trial, and doctors said that both showed improvements in their eyesight that “exceeded expectations.” Chris James, blind for 20 years, has never seen his wife of seven years.
The chip is similar to the camera in a mobile phone containing 1,500 light-sensitive elements replacing the damaged cells in the eye. A power supply is first implanted under the skin behind the ear, then the 3mm-by-3mm chip implanted through a small flap in the retina, and positioned where the light passing into the eye forms an image on its surface and then converted into electrical pulses that stimulate healthy retina cells passing signals through the optic nerve and on to the brain and is then reconstructed. The vision is different from normal and requires a different type of brain processing.
Robin Miller says, “I am able to detect light and distinguish the outlines of certain objects.” Chris James who could only tell light from dark in one eye says, “This is not a cure, but it may put the world into some perspective. It’ll give me some imagery rather than just a black and white world.” The imagery could get better with time as the brain learns how to translate the impulses better. One of the first patients to be fitted with the implant was Mikka Terho from Finland. His doctors were impressed in 2010 when he was able to name plates, mugs and cutlery and read large letters. The patients though can only see in black and white.
Printing Body Parts
For the first operation of its kind, an 83-year-old woman in the Netherlands suffering from a jaw infection, was fitted with an artificial jaw custom-created by a 3-D printer. By taking a CT scan of her lower jaw and entering the pattern data into the printer; it then lays down titanium powder instead of ink, layer by layer, fusing it in place with laser melting technology, and completing the replica in just a couple of hours; each cross section melted to the previous layer. Then the structure is coated with a bioceramic coating, created with cavities to accommodate muscle and nerve attachments.
The patient underwent the surgery in June 2011, and the inflamed mandible was removed and replaced with the replica implant, where the contour of her face was restored, and she showing normal function one day after surgery.
This is just a precursor to this incredible technology where soon even organs will be created this way using the patients own cells and DNA.
I remember seeing all those scary movies when I was a kid about the invisible man. A truly science fiction dream of pure fantasy, but it’s fun to detach from reality and surrender to the imagination of movie-magic.
Well now, incredibly, it has become reality where Hyperstealth, a Canadian camouflage design company that has done just that. Calling it Quantum Stealth, it is a material that makes anything behind it invisible by bending light waves around the object it covers. How? Since it’s mainly for the military, it’s highly secretive.
This seems to be the real deal, not movie-magic, not using cameras. lights, batteries or mirrors—just a lightweight material. Militarily it can be used in a variety of scenarios such as when a pilot ejects over open terrain in enemy territory. His or her parachute would be made of the Quantum Stealth fabric, and once on the ground where he would be terribly vulnerable because of the open terrain, can render himself invisible even to thermal images merely by throwing it over himself.
Another application is to foil cameras and visual sensors on an enemy beach where any military team dressed with the fabric swims to the beach even during mid-day. Or, when a sniper needs to neutralize a target where no cover is available, will be undetectable under it.
Three states, Florida, Nevada and California now allow self-driving cars on the road. Yes, that means you sit back, have a sandwich, enjoy the scenery or read the paper, and this car will take you wherever you want to go.