In February of this year, Carmen Tarleton underwent one of the most successful face transplants yet. Today at The Verge, Katie Drummond has penned a must-read feature on the story behind Tarleton’s facial transformation, complete with photo, video, infographics and diagrams.
While DNA is the building block of life, its cousin RNA keeps the show running smoothly, as it carries the information from DNA that allow genes to be expressed. RNA’s ability to increase or decrease the expression of genes means it has huge potential to treat diseases at the genetic level, including tumors and chronic wounds.
Microorganisms have been found in virtually every corner of the Earth, from deep sea volcanoes to the tops of frozen mountains. They’ve also been discovered high up in the atmosphere — but scientists haven’t been entirely sure as to nature and extent of these elusive high-altitude organisms. Now, new research suggests that there’s a surprising amount of bacteria and fungi as high as 30,000 feet. And remarkably, these microbes could be affecting the climate, as well as contributing to the spread of diseases down on Earth.
Athletes who perform at the elite level aren’t like the rest of us. Their feats of strength, accuracy, and endurance often appear superhuman — which probably explains why we enjoy watching them so much. And the suggestion that many of these athletes are somehow performing outside of “normal” human bounds is not an exaggeration. Professional sports, it would seem, are being increasingly dominated by the mutants among us.
Humanity is a pretty diverse bunch. We come in all shapes and sizes, and with varying gifts. And it just so happens that some of these variations can lend themselves to specific sports. Some people benefit from happy accidents — physical “mutations” that can help an athlete adapt to a particular sport. It’s Darwinian selection on the playing field, with athletes working to attain Dawkinsian fitness peaks (quite literally).
The result of this selectional process is that the last man and woman standing are often way outside the human norm.
Almost any disease will spend some time in your body before making you ill, summoning its forces or just lying in wait. But some maladies are even more patient than that.
Some ailments can spend decades lurking in your body, dormant and unknown, until they suddenly spring to life. Let’s take a look at some of the most patient diseases that you could already have, without knowing.
The most famous, and the most dreaded, virus that stays dormant in the body for years is HIV — which introduced many people for the first time to the notion that you could look perfectly healthy but still have a communicable virus. But there have always been illnesses that had incubation periods of anywhere from years to decades. And these diseases have spurred many legends about how they were spread, and why they stayed hidden — but today we’ll look at the facts.
Back in 2010, a team of German doctors announced that they’d recorded the world’s first MRI of a woman giving birth. Back then, only still images were available — but now the researchers have released the video, and it’s spellbinding.
The video captures the active second stage of labour as the mother expels the fetus. The technique, called cinematic MRI, takes repeated images of the same slice of the body before joining them up to create an ultra-detailed video.
One of the most crazy making yet widespread and potentially dangerous notions is:
“Oh, that behavior is genetic.”
Now what does that mean?
It means all sorts of subtle stuff if you know modern biology, but for most people out there what it winds up meaning is: a deterministic view of life, one rooted in biology and genetics.
Genes equal things that can’t be changed. Genes equal things that are inevitable and that you might as well not waste resources trying to fix, might as well not put societal energies into trying to improve because it’s inevitable and it’s unchangeable. And that is sheer nonsense.
It is widely thought that conditions like ADHD are genetically programmed, conditions like schizophrenia are genetically programmed. The truth is the opposite. Nothing is genetically programmed.
There are very rare diseases, a small handful, extremely sparsely represented in the population, that are truly genetically determined. Most complex conditions might have a predisposition that has a genetic component, but a predisposition is not the same as a predetermination.
The whole search for the source of diseases in the genome was doomed to failure before anybody even thought of it, because most diseases are not genetically predetermined. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, rheumatoid conditions, addictions — none of them are genetically determined. For example, let’s take a look at breast cancer — out of 100 women with breast cancer, only 7 women will carry the breast cancer genes, 93 do not. And out of 100 women who do have the genes not all of them will get cancer. So..
LSD and ketamine, two powerful hallucinogens, are also potential cures for depression, OCD, and anxiety. Two studies published in Science and Nature, confirm that hallucinogenic drugs stimulate healthy brain activity, even promoting the growth of neurons.
Ketamine and Depression
The study in Science, focused entirely on the drug ketamine. Used frequently as an animal sedative, ketamine can also be used to sedate humans and is also taken recreationally because of its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. Molecular psychiatrist Nanxin Li and colleagues dosed rats with modest amounts of ketamine, and observed that the drug boosted signaling between neurons in the brain, and even led to healthy growth of synapses. (Chronic depression can be linked to inhibited synaptic growth.) Ultimately, they concluded that ketamine might be useful in treating depression because it increases brain activity instantly - so there is no need to wait weeks or months for the drug to take effect.
Dopamine: A naturally occurring chemical in the brain that transmits nerve impulses, AKA a neurotransmitter — it is associated with movement, attention, learning, and the brain’s pleasure and reward system.
For all of the mind-boggling achievements of modern medicine, only one — one! — disease has ever been completely eradicated: smallpox.
But now guinea worm — the preventable disease that forces people to live with worms up to three-feet long inside them — is teetering on the brink of joining that very, very short list of diseases that disappear, never to return again.