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Mini human liver created in the laboratory to simulate diseases and study them

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Miniature cultured human liver labs were created by a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The “mini livers” could help to simulate the progressions of various liver diseases and therefore to test their therapies.

The researchers transformed genetically modified human skin cells into 3D liver tissue in “stripped” mouse livers of their own cells. Real functional 3D mini livers have therefore blossomed in the laboratory with lots of blood vessels and structural features of a normal human liver.

Researchers have already managed to mimic in particular non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition sees the accumulation of fatty parts in the liver, a condition which in turn leads to very serious diseases such as cirrhosis or liver failure.

This is the first time that genetically modified human “mini livers” are created, as recalled by Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, professor of pathology in Pittsburgh and senior author of the study. This is an important result because very often the experiments that are carried out on animals, mainly on mice, even if promising, do not turn out to be effective in clinical studies on humans.

This is because, of course, “mice are not human,” as Soto-Gutierrez himself recalls. There are some important differences between us and them, including mutations that predispose us to specific diseases, which is not possible to study in mice.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

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Rising sea levels started in the 60s

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According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Siegen, Germany, sea level rise would have started as early as the 60s of the last century. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, made use of various data relating to phenomena such as coastal tides and data from satellites.

In particular since the early 90s of the last century, satellites around the Earth have begun to measure the sea level with extreme precision, as reported by Sönke Dangendorf, researcher at the German University and principal author of the study, who adds: “So far it has not been clear when this acceleration began, in which region it was started and which processes contributed most to it. The answer to these questions was hampered by the fact that before the advent of satellite altimetry in 1992, our knowledge was based mainly on a few hundred tide gauges that record sea level along the coasts of the world and that our available approaches to reconstructing sea levels globally from these measurements were too inaccurate.”

The new approach, based on data relating to tidal registers and those provided by satellites, shows that the acceleration of sea-level rise began already in the 60s when the level itself began to increase by just under a millimeter per year (60 years), an acceleration that then reached more than 3 mm per year today, as reported by Carling Hay, geophysicist at Boston College and another author of the study.

The researchers also found that most of this level rise comes from the southern hemisphere, particularly from the subtropical southeastern marine areas of Australia and New Zealand. In these regions, this acceleration is even five times greater than the global average.

This differentiation, according to the same researchers, is due to the changing winds strongly influencing sea levels. They move northward from the warm masses of the ocean waters and control the absorption of heat by the underlying ocean, as Dangendorf explains: “When the westerly winds of the southern hemisphere intensify, more heat is pumped from the atmosphere into the ocean, leading to an expansion of the water column and therefore to an increase in the global sea level.”

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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Mega tsunami caused on Mars by asteroid impact billions of years ago

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An international group of researchers has come to the conclusion that the crater of Lomonosov, an impact crater in the northern part of Mars with a diameter of about 80 miles, can be connected to an impact that would have caused a mega-tsunami over 3 billion years ago on the red planet.

According to the most reliable theories, on Mars, in fact, billions of years ago there existed an enormous ocean that covered a good part of the northern surface of the planet. The asteroid could be impacted right in this body of water.

Precisely the large size of the crater, first of all, suggests that the impact body itself was large. Scientists believe the asteroid was similar in size to the one that struck the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago on Earth, an asteroid about 6 miles in diameter.

In the study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, the researchers then describe the evidence they believe would witness the formation of a huge tsunami due to the impact that occurred not long after the planet was formed. According to the researchers, by carefully observing the crater, it can be seen that part of the edge is missing and this can be considered a proof of the movement of a huge mass of water that has helped to wear down the edge itself.

Furthermore, the crater seems to have more or less the same depth as the ancient ocean once present on Mars. At the moment these are theoretical assumptions: there is no agreement even with regard to the presence of the enormous northern Martian ocean.

This ocean would have formed on Mars about 3.4 billion years ago and according to some theories it may have been quite long-lived while according to others the water would have remained liquid only for a few thousand years and then finally frozen and then, during hundreds of millions of years, largely dissolved in space.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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Injecting three hormones under the skin causes weight loss in the obese

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During some experiments, researchers at Imperial College London noticed a reduction in body weight and glucose levels in obese patients with diabetes in about four weeks. The reduction took place thanks to the injection of a particular mix of hormones.

According to researchers at Imperial College, the procedure known as “gastric bypass,” sometimes very effective for reducing excess weight, is efficient because it causes a greater production of three specific hormones by the cells of the small intestine and colon.

It is a combination of hormones called “GOP” which reduces appetite and causes a loss of weight, also improving the body’s ability to use absorbed sugar in foods, which is very important for diabetics.

Based on this notion, the researchers injected a mix of three hormones into patients: peptide 1 similar to glucagon (GLP-1), oxintomodulin (OXM) and peptide YY (PYY). This combination mimicked the combination of hormones whose increased production occurs after the aforementioned surgery.

Patients received this treatment for four weeks. The injection took place through a special pump that slowly introduced the mix into the body, under the skin, for 12 hours a day. At the same time, patients followed a diet prescribed by a dietitian.

According to Tricia Tan, a professor at Imperial College and the lead author of the study, the results have shown promise and show significant improvements in patient health in just four weeks. The same researcher in the press release adds: “Compared to other methods the treatment is non-invasive and has reduced glucose levels to almost normal levels in our patients.”

The results of the study were published in Diabetes Care.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of The Chunk. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. The Chunk, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

3560 Sycamore Lake Road, Mayville Wisconsin, 53050
920-387-9926
[email protected]
Bill Stern
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