Less insulin may increase lifespan
A good diet and regular exercise can help keep you feeling young and healthy throughout your life. How? While medical science can’t pin down every connection between health and lifestyle, one recently discovered factor indicates that diet and exercise reduce the negative action of insulin in your brain.
Working with a team of researchers, Morris F. White, a diabetes expert at Children’s Hospital in Boston, studied the negative effects of insulin using a strain of laboratory mice lacking a certain gene that carries the insulin signal beyond the surface of the cell and into its interior.
“Insulin is well known to control blood glucose concentrations,” says White. “When cells fail to respond to insulin, more and more insulin must be released into the blood after every meal to keep glucose under control and avoid type 2 diabetes. However, excess exposure of the brain to insulin might have detrimental effects.”
The mutant mice strain tested by White’s group were protected from the effects of excess insulin upon the brain. Although these overeating mice packed on the fat and even displayed symptoms of diabetes, they lived 18 percent longer than normal lab mice.
The engineered mice were also more active than normal ones, and, after eating, their brains had higher levels of an antioxidant that protects brain cells from damage by elevated insulin concentrations. The researchers concluded that the genetic engineering mimicked the effects of healthy eating and exercising, which is the normal way to keep insulin concentrations low and avoid exposing the brain to too much insulin.
For more information, contact Morris White, Morris.firstname.lastname@example.org, (617) 919-2846, or visit www.childrenshospital.org.
MIT professor Dava Newman hopes astronauts will one day Mars-walk in her BioSuit.™
Her design – based on human skin, giraffes and snakes – is lighter and provides mobility and flexibility. Paul Webb’s space activity suit and Arthur Iberall’s flexible space suit design inspired Newman.
A challenge will be keeping the BioSuit’s mechanical counter pressure to levels space travel requires. It will be another decade before the suit is tested.
And how does it fit?
“I have great mobility, and the flexibility is actually better than my personal wetsuit,” Newman says. “After wearing it for hours you adapt comfortably, and it’s not until you take it off that you notice your body has been squeezed all over.”
For more information, contact Dava Newman, email@example.com, (617) 258-8799, or visit http://techtv.mit.edu/file/237.
An atypical treadmill in Maryland will help brain injury sufferers recover their stride. The custom treadmill at the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute has a split belt that can move a person’s foot forward while moving the other foot backwards at different speeds.
Researchers found that the brain controls each leg separately, and forward and backward movements are controlled separately. The device leads to a retraining of the injured brain.
“The notion that we can leverage the brain’s adaptive capacity and effectively ‘dial in’ the patterns of movement that we want patients to learn is incredibly exciting,” says Amy Bastian, senior study author and director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
For more information, contact Amy Bastian, firstname.lastname@example.org, (443) 923-2716, or visit www.prnewswire.com/mnr/bastian/29010.
A 17-inch-tall, six-pound artificial boy could be a personal robot for the masses. Developed by Richardson, Texas-based Hanson Robotics, “Zeno” is the first of a series of small, fictional character robots that are part of the company’s “RoboKind” products.
Zeno fuses vision, speech, hearing, mobility and an expressive face with the company’s “Character Engine” software. The result is a wireless, walking robot that runs on battery power and can interact with human companions.
Controlled by a personal computer, Zeno can engage in dialogue with its owners, make eye contact and have his own moods. His face uses “Frubber” skin, a strong, elastic polymer that makes realistic facial movement possible.
Zeno is two to three years away from being available commercially and is expected to cost around $300, according to Hanson Robotics. More than 4 million robots are expected to be in households worldwide this year, according to the International Federation of Robotics.
For more information, visit www.zenosworld.com or contact Hanson Robotics, (972) 234-3254.
Imagine having the entire contents of YouTube or 30,000 full-length movies at your fingertips. IBM announced a breakthrough in atomic-scale components that could allow the storage of one sextillion (a sextillion is 100 billion gigabytes) bits of data in a machine the size of an MP3 player.
“One of the major challenges for the IT industry is shrinking the bit size used for data storage to the smallest possible features, while increasing the capacity,” says Gian-Luca Bona, manager of science and technology at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. “We are working at the ultimate edge of what is possible, and we are now one step closer to figuring out how to store data at the atomic level.
Understanding the specific magnetic properties of atoms is the cornerstone
of progressing toward new, more efficient ways to store data.”
In their reports, IBM scientists describe major progress in probing
a property called magnetic anisotropy in atoms. This determines an atom’s
ability to store information. Previously, researchers believed they could not
measure the magnetic anisotropy of a single atom.
For more information, contact Andreas Heinrich, email@example.com, or visit www.almaden.ibm.com.
British researchers have found a genetic marker that identifies an aggressive, deadly form of prostate cancer. Prostate cancers commonly contain a fusion of two genes: TMPRSS2 and ERG, says Colin Cooper, a professor of molecular biology at Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research. But on occasion, a little more than 6 percent of the time, a doubling of that fusion results in an alteration called 2+Edel. That alteration is not a good sign, says Cooper.
In addition to its importance in diagnosis, the marker is also important when it comes to treating prostate cancer correctly, if at all. Prostate specific antigen testing is a blood test that detects early signs of prostate problems, problems that are not always in need of treatment.
“With prostate cancer, the issue is that probably around 60 to 70 percent of prostate cancer does not need treatment,” says Cooper. “This is important because radical treatment causes impotence.”
Cooper’s team has researched the 2+Edel marker for about seven years, and it will be another two to three years before it leaves the research phase, he says.
“Because many of the cancers are indolent and will never cause clinical symptoms, the treatment needs targeting to those who need it,” says Cooper.
More than 215,000 new prostate cancer cases were reported in the United States in 2007.
For more information, contact Colin Cooper, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.icr.ac.uk.