"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sugar, Staph, and Vanity 

San Diego researchers have produced insulin-secreting pancreatic cells from human embryonic stem cells, giving hope that type I diabetes might someday soon be curable. As yet, the lab-produced cells don't seem to have endogenous islet cells' regulatory mechanisms - that is, they don't produce insulin relative to blood sugar levels - but the researchers believe that they can figure out how to make them behave properly in the future.

If this works, it would be a major breakthrough not only for diabetics but for biotechnology in general. Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh will probably accuse diabetics of 'faking it' and wanting to kill 'babies' (aka the embryos from whence the stem cells come).

Staph infections have plagued hospitals and patients since forever, with more and more resistant strains cropping up all the time. Luckily, staph's reign may be coming to an end: NIH researchers have found an effective vaccine for S. aureus in mice, with promise of a human version soon to come. Eliminating nosocomial staph infections could improve hospital care and reduce its costs substantially.

It seems that elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, a skill of self-awareness only demonstrated thus far in humans, great apes, and dolphins. So then, if we put big pictures of local elephants on the walls of huts in the villages they tend to rampage, they might recognize the likeness and stop?? Probably not, but worth a go, just for comedy's sake!

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