Making a drug is like trying to pick a lock at the molecular level. There are two ways in which you can proceed. You can try thousands of different keys at random, hopefully finding one that fits. The pharmaceutical industry does this all the time – sometimes screening hundreds of thousands of compounds to see if they interact with a certain enzyme or protein. But unfortunately it’s not always efficient – there are more drug molecule shapes than seconds have passed since the beginning of the universe.
We all know we should exercise regularly, but it can be difficult to fit exercise into our busy schedules. Most people can only exercise before or after work, so it’s worth examining whether the time of day we exercise affects outcomes such as weight loss and sleep.
With springtime comes the desire to shed those few extra pounds, in preparation to don swimsuits and head to the pool. This year, new obesity research is making it easier to find a pathway that is right for us.
Mushrooms are often considered only for their culinary use because they are packed with flavor-enhancers and have gourmet appeal. That is probably why they are the second most popular pizza topping, next to pepperoni.
Many of us know the feeling of a cramp – whether you’ve been struck down on the sports field or woken with a start in excruciating pain in the middle of the night. A cramp is the involuntary contraction of our skeletal muscle, and it hurts.
Eyebrows, we all have them, but what are they actually for? While eyebrows help to prevent debris, sweat, and water from falling into the eye socket, they serve another important function too – and it’s all to do with how they move and human connection.
In 47 CE, Scribonius Largus, court physician to the Roman emperor Claudius, described in his Compositiones a method for treating chronic migraines: place torpedo fish on the scalps of patients to ease their pain with electric shocks. Largus was on the right path; our brains are comprised of electrical signals that influence how brain cells communicate with each other and in turn affect cognitive processes such as memory, emotion and attention.
Mr. B loves Johnny Cash, except when he doesn’t. Mr. X has watched his doctors morph into Italian chefs right before his eyes. The link between the two? Both Mr. B and Mr. X received deep brain stimulation (DBS), a procedure involving an implant that sends electric impulses to specific targets in the brain to alter neural activity. While brain implants aim to treat neural dysfunction, cases like these demonstrate that they may influence an individual’s perception of the world and behavior in undesired ways.
Although radically different in terms of their content and feel, the range of dream states are just as complex as waking states. If we look across an individual’s lifetime, we find that children’s dreams are very different from adults’ dreams. Children tend to dream of emotional interactions with family members, friends and scary animals, while adults dream of other adults. Dreams of young adults are filled with social interactions between the dreamer and current friends and significant others. Men’s dreams differ substantially from women’s dreams, with women dreaming equally often of men and women, and men dreaming more often about other men. Older adults tend to dream more about creative works, legacies and enduring concerns, while the dreams of dying people are filled with numbers of supernatural agents, other-worldly settings and images of reunions with a loved one who has died. Dreams that transport the child into the social world of his caretakers during early life gently escort the dreamer into the arms of his loved ones when life is nearing an end. Dreams accompany us literally from the cradle to the grave.
As we prepare to “spring forward” for daylight saving time on March 11, many of us dread the loss of the hour’s sleep we incur by moving our clocks forward. For millions, the loss will be an added insult to the inadequate sleep they experience on a daily basis.
A new study assesses rates and routes of possible infectious disease transmission during flights.An infectious passenger with influenza or other droplet-transmitted respiratory infection will most likely not transmit infection to passengers seated farther away than two seats laterally and one row in front or back on an aircraft, the new research indicates.
In 2006, Nature published a paper describing how stem cells could be used to restore sight in blind mice. This study, and similar subsequent studies, created a lot of excitement about the potential of stem cells to cure blindness in humans. Fast forward 12 years and we still don’t seem to be quite there – one notable human clinical trial in Japan was stopped in 2015 due to a risk of tumour development in a patient’s eye. So are we any closer to using stem cell therapies to treat blindness, or will we always be “ten years away”?
In Australia, almost 6,000 deaths a year can be attributed to alcohol, as well as around 400 hospitalisations a day. While drinking has declined in some segments of the population, with related stabilising of rates of death and illness, these numbers are far too high. Similar reports are emerging in other countries.
Quite a number of people develop nearsightedness or farsightedness during their lifetimes. "Nanodrops," a new eye drop developed by Israeli ophthalmologists, has successfully fixed corneas in pig eyes, and could potentially do the same for people.
How many times have you been told that something great will happen as long as you believe it is possible? From pop psychology books to self-improvement seminars and blogs, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the advantages of positive thinking. And there’s certainly some evidence behind it – a large body of work suggests that being optimistic reaps a number of positive rewards, including better health and wellbeing.
When computers hit the mainstream, the older guy in the office would always be sniggered at when bashing away on his QWERTY keyboard, only using his two index fingers to type. To the amusement of his younger, tech-savvy colleagues, he would almost look Neanderthal next to those who grew up with computers and used all their fingers on the keyboard quickly and fluently.
While analyzing hundreds of soil samples, researchers from Rockefeller University discovered a new family of antibiotics. These compounds could help tremendously in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Each year, the world invests billions of dollars into cancer research, but because cancer cells multiply rapidly and without limit, developing effective treatments for the disease is extremely difficult. Now, a new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell may reveal a way we could create a cancer vaccine, essentially training our bodies to fight the disease before it even takes hold.
Age-based risk calculators that work out your “real biological age” are increasingly popular. We hear about body age on health shows like How to Stay Young; gyms promote reductions in metabolic age and fitness age; games and apps claim to lower your brain age; and researchers have developed specific organ measures like heart age, lung age and bone age.
It is estimated that by 2020, 2.95 billion people will be using social networks. But while sites like Facebook revolve around the wholesome concepts of friends, likes and shares, they have also become a way for people to cheat on their partners.
For some consumers, the mere act of shopping at the supermarket can be full of overwhelming decisions. After extended debate in the grocery aisle, after attempts to parse through the misleading packaging, you might end up choosing the organic tomatoes over the conventional ones. They’re twice the price, so they’ve got to be better, right?