Number of naturally
have actually been
found in the byproducts
of nuclear testing
in humans, as
Amount of water, in gallons,
that the average U.S. citizen
uses on a daily basis. This
water is found not only in
the water we we drink and
use to shower but also in the
products and food we buy.
exist in the
10Amount of water, in gallons, needed to produce one slice of bread.
Beer compound could help fend off
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
The health-promoting perks of wine have attracted the spotlight recently,
leaving beer in the shadows. But researchers are discovering new ways in
which the latter could be a more beneficial beverage than once thought.
They’re now reporting in ACS’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
that a compound from hops could protect brain cells from damage — and
potentially slow the development of disorders such as Alzheimer’s and
Jianguo Fang and colleagues note that mounting evidence suggests that oxidative damage to neuronal cells contributes to the development of diseases that originate in the brain. If investigators could
find a way to guard these cells from this type of damage, they might be able to help prevent or slow
down Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative conditions. One compound
found in hops, called xanthohumol, has attracted the attention of researchers because of its potential
benefits, including antioxidation, cardiovascular protection, and anticancer properties. Fang’s team
decided to test xanthohumol’s effects on brain cells.
In lab tests, the researchers found that the compound could protect neuronal cells and potentially
help slow the development of brain disorders by serving as an antioxidant that rids neurons of free
radicals and also by activating cytoprotective genes that induce intrinsic antioxidant defense.
Read more about the research: “Xanthohumol, a Polyphenol Chalcone Present in Hops, Activating
Nrf2 Enzymes To Confer Protection against Oxidative Damage in PC12 Cells,” Journal of Agricultural
and Food Chemistry, January 14, 2015 (Web).
Tiny robotic hands
could improve cancer
diagnostics, drug delivery
Many people imagine robots today as clunky metal versions
of humans, but investigators are forging new territory in the
field of “soft robotics.” One of the latest advances is a flexible,
microscopic hand-like gripper. The development could help
doctors perform remotely guided surgical procedures or perform
biopsies. The materials also could someday deliver therapeutic
drugs to hard-to-reach places. The report appears in the journal
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
David H. Gracias and colleagues note that many robotic tools require cords to power
their movements. But cords add to the bulk of robots, which limits the spaces they can
access. To address this constraint, many researchers have turned to hydrogels. These soft
materials can swell in response to changes in temperature, acidity, or light, providing
energy to carry out tasks without being tethered to a power source. However, hydrogels
are too lacking in stiffness for some applications, so the group combined the hydrogels
with a stiff biodegradable polymer, making the microhands strong enough to wrap around
and remove cells. The team then sought a way to control where the grippers go once
deployed in the body.
The researchers incorporated magnetic nanoparticles in the materials so they could
guide the microhands with a magnetic probe. The team concluded that this added trait
could help in the microassembly or microengineering of soft or biological parts, and give
surgeons the ability to remotely direct where biopsies are taken. Also, Gracias says that the
use of soft materials suggests the possibility of creating biodegradable, miniaturized surgical tools that can safely dissolve in the body.
Read more about the research: “Self-Folding Thermo-Magnetically Responsive Soft
Microgrippers,” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, January 16, 2015 (Web).