Of all the illnesses that one might have to face throughout life, one of the most frightening is that of experiencing a stroke, where a circulatory problem in the brain delivers either too much or too little blood flow to a given region, resulting in impairment in that part of the brain. The effects can be life-changing, resulting in the loss of various functions in the patient, including impairment of vision, speech, and motor functions. However, a new study from Stanford University may be offering researchers a new glimpse into how the brain heals itself, using a stem cell therapy that triggered profound healing effects in its patients, including giving one formerly wheelchair-bound individual the ability to walk again.
While the sheer amount of information that can be stored in genetic code is well known — a single gram of DNA is estimated to be able to hold 700 terabytes of information — it turns out that there is yet another layer of information that is mechanically encoded into our genetic material. A new study has found this extra layer of encoded information in our DNA, in that the way the molecule itself is folded acts as yet another layer of information that can be used by the host organism’s cells. As it is, each cell holds strands of DNA that are approximately six feet long, so each strand needs to be folded extremely tightly to fit into the cell’s microscopic nucleus.
Seeing the need to balance the ethics of using animals as a food source and a burgeoning planetary population, researchers have been studying ways to grow animal tissue in the lab, to produce a food source that doesn’t rely on animals for production. This endeavor has seen major advances in recent years, and what might have seemed like science-fiction just a few years ago might very well be grocery store reality within a decade.
Researchers in Sweden have created what they are calling an electronic plant, a machine-plant hybrid that has electrically conductive wiring integrated into it’s internal structure. The research team sees a wide variety of applications for this development, including plants that can react to environmental changes, or plants that could act as electrical batteries, using photosynthesis as a power source.