An Oregon county commission has ordered an incinerator to stop accepting boxed medical waste to generate electricity after learning the waste it’s been burning may include tissue from aborted fetuses from British Columbia.
Sam Brentano, chairman of the Marion County board of commissioners, says the board is taking immediate action to prohibit human tissue from future deliveries at the plant that has been turning waste into energy since 1987.
Device May Aid Assessment of Heart Attack, Stroke Risk
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed an ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke.
At issue is the plaque that builds up in arteries as we age. Some types of plaque are deemed “vulnerable,” meaning that they are more likely to detach from the artery wall and cause heart attack or stroke.
The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels.
While the proposal being issued Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration won’t immediately mean changes for the popular devices, the move is aimed at eventually taming the fast-growing e-cigarette industry. The agency says the proposal sets a foundation for regulating the products but the rules don’t immediately ban the wide array of flavors of e-cigarettes, curb marketing on places like TV or set product standards.
Vermont could likely be the first state in the country to require labels on genetically modified foods, under a bill approved by both legislative chambers and favored by the governor. The House voted 114-30 this week to support the bill, which would require the GMO labels on produce and processed foods and which carries a maximum civil penalty for violators of $1,000 per day per product.
The Senate previously approved the measure, and Gov. Peter Shumlin says he plans to sign it into law. With his signature, the requirements would take effect July 1, 2016, giving food producers time to comply. Shumlin hails the vote and says he looks forward to signing the bill.
Scientific research at UT Southwestern Medical Center previously discovered that the newborn animal heart can heal itself completely, whereas the adult heart lacks this ability. Now, research by the same team today has revealed why the heart loses its incredible regenerative capability in adulthood, and the answer is quite simple – oxygen.
Yes, oxygen. It is well-known that a major function of the heart is to circulate oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. But at the same time, oxygen is a highly reactive, nonmetallic element and oxidizing agent that readily forms toxic substances with many other compounds. This latter property has now been found to underlie the loss of regenerative capacity in the adult heart.
Magnetic Particles Help Fight Olive Oil Counterfeiting
Who guarantees that expensive olive oil isn’t counterfeit or adulterated? An invisible label, developed by ETH Zürich researchers, could perform the task. The tag consists of tiny magnetic DNA particles encapsulated in a silica casing and mixed with the oil.
Just a few grams of the new substance are enough to tag the entire olive oil production of Italy. If counterfeiting were suspected, the particles added at the place of origin could be extracted from the oil and analyzed, enabling a definitive identification of the producer. “The method is equivalent to a label that cannot be removed,” says Robert Grass, lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH.
The results of an international study, which included researchers from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), indicate that the DNA recovered from the inside of a pumpkin, previously attributed to the French King Louis XVI, does not actually belong to the monarch, guillotined in 1793. Complete genome sequencing suggests that blood remains correspond to a short male with brown eyes, Louis XVI had blue eyes and was tall. The work has been published in the Scientific Reports journal.
CSIC researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, explains, “When the Y chromosome of three living Bourbons was decoded, and we saw that it did not match with the DNA recovered from the pumpkin in 2010, we decided to sequence the complete genome and to make a functional interpretationpola in order to see if the blood could actually belong to Louis XVI.”
Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants. They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing.
The approach reported this week isn’t ready for human testing, but it’s part of growing research into ways to let users of cochlear implants experience richer, more normal sound.
Carbon offsetting initiatives could be improved with new insights into the make-up of tropical forests. Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh studying the Amazon Basin have revealed unprecedented details of the size, age and species of trees across the region by comparing satellite maps with hundreds of field plots.
The findings will enable researchers to assess more accurately the amount of carbon each tree can store. This is a key factor in carbon offset schemes, in which trees are given a cash value according to their carbon content, and credits can be traded in exchange for preserving trees.
Today on LabChat, we’re traveling five years down the road to see what labs will look like in 2019. To get an accurate description of what the lab of the future is expected to entail, Laboratory Equipment recently surveyed its readership and analyzed the results.
Researchers Steer Chemical Reactions with Laser Pulses
Usually, chemical reactions just take their course, much like a ball rolling downhill. However, it is also possible to deliberately control chemical reactions: at the Vienna Univ. of Technology, molecules are hit with femtosecond laser pulses, changing the distribution of electrons in the molecule. This interaction is so short that at first it does not have any discernable influence on the atomic nuclei, which have much more mass than the electrons. However, the disturbance of the electron distribution can still initiate chemical processes and eventually separate the nuclei from each other. The properties of the laser pulse determine which final products are created.
Some manufacturers are turning away from using triclosan as an antimicrobial ingredient in soaps, toothpastes and other products over health concerns. And now scientists are reporting new evidence that appears to support these worries. Their study, published in the ACS journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that triclosan, as well as another commercial substance called octylphenol, promoted the growth of human breast cancer cells in lab dishes and breast cancer tumors in mice.
Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, a team of researchers led by UC Riverside, in collaboration with Univ. of Southern California and Purdue Univ., have developed a design structure for composite materials that is more impact resistant and tougher than the standard used in airplanes.
“The more we study the club of this tiny crustacean, the more we realize its structure could improve so many things we use every day,” says David Kisailus, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Science and the Winston Chung Endowed Chair of Energy Innovation at the UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering.