"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
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Monday, December 27, 2004

Blood, Brains and Bowels 

A stable source of blood for transfusions is something of a grail for medicine, and a safe, effective artificial blood is often seen as critical to that goal. A group of French researchers have developed a method for cultivating red blood cells in the lab, using a three-step protocol combining stem cells with stroma cells and a growth factor. If this turns out to work, it'll be a Very Good Thing. I wonder if certain people might lift their boycott of French products for it?

Berkeley neuroscientists have performed a really fascinating study on olfaction, and found that the brain has a sort of sensory gating mechanism, that tunes out most of the smells in our environment until they either exceed a certain intensity threshold, or are attended to. Really amazing stuff. (On top of the head, Harvard researchers seem to have identified a (the?) cause of hair graying.)

Another group of scientists are working on a new colonoscopy tool, that is supposed to be safer and more comfortable, based on the paddleworm. The device mimics the worm's physiology and movements to move itself up the intestine by 'pulling' rather than being pushed like a traditional endoscope. This apparently is thought to be less stressful to the body.

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