Health

Frogs Get Their Shots: Vaccination May Curb Lethal Fungus

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 9, 2014   View Article

Around the world, the rapid spread of a pathogenic fungus has sent frogs and other amphibians hopping toward extinction. Hope for their survival may come in the form of vaccination programs similar to those that protect humans from contagious diseases, according to a new study.

No, this doesn’t mean that newborn tadpoles will be paying a visit to the veterinarian for a round of shots, or that conservationists with mini-syringes will be mucking through rain forests in search of frogs. But the reality isn’t all that different.

Hundreds of amphibians already have been removed from habitats contaminated with the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes chytridiomycosis — the fungal disease implicated in the global amphibian decline. One route is to vaccinate these captive-bred amphibians, explained Jason Rohr, an ecologist at the University of South Florida and the study’s senior author.

Cough, Cough: Climate Change May Worsen Air Pollution

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 22, 2014   View Article

Residents of bulging metropolises around the world should brace for an increase in stagnant, polluted air that hangs around for days as a result of climate change-related shifts in wind and rainfall patterns, according to a new study.

The findings highlight one way global warming can compromise human health, which is a major thrust behind the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently proposed plan to curb power plant carbon emissions 30 percent by the year 2030, said Janice Nolen, an assistant vice president at the American Lung Association in Washington.

They’re alive! Harvested fruits and veggies respond to light cycles, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: June 20, 2013   View Article

The fruits and vegetables lining grocery store shelves respond to light signals, according to a new finding that may have profound implications for how food is stored, when it is eaten and, ultimately, human health.

While biologists knew that certain cells in harvested crops keep living after they are picked from a tree, plucked from a vine, or pulled from the ground, the responsiveness of fruits and veggies to the daily cycle of light and dark is a surprise, said study co-author Janet Braam from Rice University.

“The idea that postharvest you could keep circadian rhythms going is new,” the cell biologist told NBC News. “And that it would have a consequence for the accumulation of certain types of metabolites, some of which may have relevance to human health” is also new.

Shoes could help charge artificial heart pumps

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 22, 2013   View Article

Cellphones, MP3 players and — one day — artificial heart pumps may get charged up as their owners walk or run around in a pair of electricity-generating shoes designed by college kids.

The shoes join a growing list of wearable energy-harvesting devices from a knee brace, and backpack to other shoes envisioned as a way to keep gadgets carried by everyone from soldiers in the field to kids on the go supplied with electricity.

Student program wins $100K prize for health innovations for developing world

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 1, 2013   View Article

Getting the correct dose of liquid medicine into a syringe is a challenge — just ask any parent treating a toddler’s fever at 3 am. Enter the DoseRight Syringe Clip, a seemingly simple L-shaped plastic gizmo that fits into the barrel of a standard oral syringe to ensure accurate dosages. It was designed by students, and will likely save lives.

The gadget is the brainchild of Rice University’s Beyond Traditional Borders, an engineering design initiative established and run by bioengineering professors Rebecca Richards Kortum and Maria Oden with the goal of developing and improving access to health innovations for the world’s poorest communities. On Wednesday, they were honored with the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation.

17-year-old builds protein decoder tool to help cure cancer

Publication: NBC News   Date: March 13, 2013   View Article

A new class of drugs may soon be developed to treat everything from breast and ovarian cancer to tuberculosis, thanks to a 17-year-old’s system for declassifying the interactions between two types of proteins.

Johah Kallenbach, a high school senior at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa., won second place and a $75,000 scholarship Tuesday at the Intel Science Talent Search, an elite science fair, for his development of the computer program.

Global warming to make work miserable, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 24, 2013   View Article

Hot and muggy weather over the past few decades has led to about a 10 percent drop in the physiological capacity of people to do their work safely and those drops will be even greater as the climate continues to warm, a new study finds.

People may continue to work in the hot and muggy conditions, “but their misery will increase while they are productive,” John Dunne, a research oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Princeton, N.J., told NBC News.

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