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Closer to a Solution for Repairing Brain Damage

Scientists have raised hopes that brain damage caused by strokes, stab wounds and even bullets could one day be repaired by converting structural cells into functioning neurons.

For the first time, they have managed to regenerate damaged areas of the cerebral cortex of living animals by transforming a type of support cell found in the brain.

The cerebral cortex, which is the outer layer of tissue in the brain, is involved in controlling movement, interpreting the senses, conscious thought and memory. Usually almost no new neurons are grown in this area of the brain in adults, so once the cells are damaged or die, they are not replaced.

However, by injecting mice with viruses carrying a short piece of extra genetic code, scientists were able to coax structural cells, called NG2 glia, in the damaged part of the brain to develop into neurons. These then grew in the injured area and were found to be capable of receiving signals from neurons around the damaged area.


So, on the one hand, this research is great and the possibility of repairing brain damage, regrowing neurons, treating Alzheimers is fantastic. On the other hand, they had to test this on mice whose brains they stabbed in order to create an injury to treat. Eek! Poor mice. Someone hurry up and invent the future so that we can test things in a holographic environment instead of on actual mice.

Also, i recently watched a movie where they used a virus to deliver a treatment for brain injury. It didn't end well for the human race. If they start developing an airborne application, we might want to consider being extra nice to our pet chimps is all i'm saying.

By min | November 21, 2014, 2:25 PM | Science | Comments (0)| Link


I hate running. It makes my lungs hurt. It makes my head hurt. It's just horrible all around. But i'm shockingly a decently speedy sprinter (as compared to other non-athletes such as myself). I guess my knees are just more symmetrical than fnord12's.

In the new work, published November 17 in PLoS ONE, Rutgers University evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers and his colleagues measured the knees, ankles and feet of 73 elite Jamaican track and field athletes, including Olympic runners and one world champion. The researchers also examined the same body areas of 116 nonathlete Jamaicans of comparable age, sex and weight.

The comparison revealed that the sprinters' knees and ankles were significantly more symmetrical than those joints in the control group. Within the elite sprinter group the knees and ankles of the 100-meter sprinters were the most symmetrical of all; symmetry in the longer-distance sprinters (200, 400 and 800 meters) was less marked but still linked to the best race times.

Course, after about 200 meters, i'm about ready to lay down and die, so the victory is a little tainted.

By min | November 20, 2014, 9:07 AM | Science | Comments (0)| Link

A view into the ancient past

This is awesome. And what was up with those CompuServe numbers?

By fnord12 | November 10, 2014, 1:31 PM | Science & Ummm... Other? | Comments (0)| Link

It's a Fake Penguin on Wheels!

It looks comical - a remote controlled car zipping around a penguin colony dodging irritated snaps from the birds.

But using the diminutive vehicle to study penguins, researchers have found, has has much less impact on their behaviour than being approached by a human.

Scientists say the unusual approach provides "a less invasive and stressful way to collect data on these species".


The researchers worked with the team of nature filmmakers, who produced the penguin documentary Spy in the Huddle.

This resulted in an even more a comical-looking rover, with a fake chick sitting on top, which the researchers used to infiltrate the colony.

But the disguise was effective; the emperor penguins allowed the rover to approach close enough to read their tags. Some birds even interacted with it - vocalising at the fake chick.


I imagine the penguins who tried to talk to the rover were saying things like "Dude! What happened to your legs? Was it sea lions? I bet it was sea lions. A sea lion once bit my sister. No, really!".

By min | November 4, 2014, 8:39 AM | Cute Things & Science | Comments (0)| Link

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