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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Brain waves predicts how we respond to anaesthetics

In the current scenario, patients undergo surgery after proper dose of anaesthetics which is called Marsh Model that depends on a factor such as individual’s body weight to predict the amount of drug required. Consciousness of patient is maintained in a crude way. If one is still deemed awake, they are given more anaesthetics. However, there is always a risk of using high dose of anaesthetics.

The complex pattern of ‘chatter’ between different areas of an individual’s brain while they are awake could help doctors better track and even predict their response to general anaesthesia – and better identify the amount of anaesthetic necessary – according to new research from the University of Cambridge. (Source: University of Cambridge)
A research published in PLOS computational biology on 14th January 2016, researchers from University of Cambridge studied how brain signals measured using EEG (electroencephalogram) changed as healthy volunteers received infusion of propofol, a common anaesthetic.
The study was investigated on twenty individuals (9male, 11female) where each received steadily increasing dose of propofol reaching a same limit. As they were infusing the drug, they introduced ‘ping’ and ‘pong’ sound if patient can able to hear. At the same time, researchers were tracking brain network activity by EEG.

As the maximum dose reached, some volunteers were awake to do the task and some were unconscious. Through EEG readings, researchers clearly differentiate between those who were responding to anaesthetics and those who awake to do the task. This brain’s signature in a network of communications between brain areas carried by alpha waves (brain cell oscillations in the frequency of range of 7.5 to 12.5Hz), the normal range of electric activity of brain during consciousness and relaxes.

Dr. Srivas Chenu, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge mentions in University Research Bulletin, “A very good way of predicting how an individual responds to our anaesthetic was the state of the brain  network activity at the start of the procedure. The greater the network activity at the start, the more anaesthetic they are likely to need to put them under.”


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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Fully functional pancreatic cells created from skin cells

Functioning human pancreatic cells after they’ve been transplanted into a mouse. [Image: Saiyong Zhu/Nature Communications]
Scientists from University of California, San Francisco have successfully converted human skin cells to fully functional pancreatic cells. The research has been published recently in the journal Nature Communications that had presented significant advancement in cellular programming technology that allowed scientists efficiently scale up pancreatic cell production and to manufacture trillions of target cells in step-wise controlled manner.

The new cells produced insulin in response to change in glucose levels, and as transplanted into mice it was observed that cells protected mice from developing diabetes. The result produced a first time attempt to produce successful and functional pancreatic cells. This new research would definitely help to open gates of opportunity to analyze on patient specific pancreatic beta cell property and optimization of cell therapy approaches.


Researchers first used pharmaceutical and genetic properties to reprogram skin cells into endoderm progenitor cells – early developing cells have already been assigned to mature into different type of organs. With the help this method scientists can able to generate pancreatic cells faster. On addition to four more molecules the endoderm cells start dividing rapidly, allowing more than a trillion fold expansion. Critically, cells did not display any sign of tumour formation and they grew to maintain early organ specific cells.

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Shared behaviour between Microbes and Electrons

As bacteria stream through a microfluidic lattice, they synchronize and swim in patterns similar to those of electrons flowing through a magnetic material. This image shows a microfluidic 6x6 lattice. The left-hand side shows the original data as seen under the microscope. The overlaid color coding on the right-hand side shows the relative strength of clockwise (purple) or anti-clockwise (green) circulation. (Source: MIT News)
There are some obvious patters we observe to be similar in many objects around. Similarly scientists from MIT and Cambridge University have identified a unique shared pattern between bacteria and electrons. In a microfluidic lattice millions of bacteria are streamed where they synchronize and swim in patters much similar to electrons orbiting around nuclei in a magnetic field. The research was published in the journal Nature Physics in January 4th 2016.

Researchers tuned the microfluidic lattice to certain dimentions where they found that millions of microbes align and swim in same direction, much like the way electrons does while magnetic field is created. With slight changes in lattice, the bacteria flow in opposite directions resembling electrons as in non-magnetic field.

In their initial experiments, they placed the bacteria in smaller pools or wells to observe their swimming patterns. In larger wells, bacteria tend to swim in disorderly fashion. As they compared in smaller wells of about 70microns wide, thousands of bacteria behave in orderly manner, swimming in spiral or in same direction within the well for longer periods of time.


Source: MIT News
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