A woman has recently told her story of incredibly becoming pregnant while she was already pregnant, resulting in her giving birth to twins who were conceived by different parents and not at the same time.
Jessica Allen, a 31 year-old from California, agreed to become a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple and underwent in vitro fertilization in April 2016. She was paid $30,000 for doing so, according to The New York Post. California is one of the few states in the United States where you can pay someone to be a surrogate mother.
In sixth week of pregnancy, Allen was told she was carrying twins after a routine ultrasound. Her payment was increased by $5,000 for carrying the second child as the doctors assumed she had become pregnant with twins.
In December 2016 she gave birth to two boys, and one month later received a photo of the two boys from the Chinese couple with a message saying: “They are not the same, right? Have you thought about why they are different?”
“I did notice that one was much lighter than the other,” Jessica told ABC News. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.”
Subsequent DNA tests confirmed her suspicion that they weren’t twins. It showed that one of the babies was Allen’s biological child and the other was the Chinese couple’s child.
“I don’t know how to describe it… we were floored,” added Jessica. “We were like, how did this happen?”
It happened due to the extremely rare phenomenon known as “superfetation”. In most cases, when a woman becomes pregnant they release hormones to stop ovulation. But in some rare cases the woman’s body continues to ovulate, releasing an egg that can become fertilized. This is what happened to Allen, with the new egg becoming fertilized by her partner. Supferfetation is so rare in humans that scientists know very little about it.
Fortunately, both children are now well and healthy. After a harrowing and expensive legal process, Alllen and her partner now have custody of their son and have renamed him Malachi.
Allen doesn’t have any regrets about the process: “I don’t regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare.”
“It’s pricking your finger endlessly throughout the day. It’s not being afraid of blood because you get used to seeing so much of it. It’s no longer feeling tremor to a needle because you’ve had no choice than to be poked by them every day. It’s seeing all the scars all over our tummy, arms and legs from all the site changes and pokes and just cry.”
These are Valeria Guerrero’s answers to the question: What is it like to live with Type 1 diabetes?
Sounds absolutely horrible, doesn’t it?
That’s why news of the clinical trials of ViaCyte’s PEC-Direct, an implant that grows insulin-producing cells from stem cells to treat type 1 diabetes patients, is such great news.
Dramatic life-changing intervention
If successful, the implant could change the lives of millions of people living with type 1 diabetes dramatically because they won’t need to inject themselves with insulin anymore.
With type 1 diabetes the body’s immune system attacks cells in the pancreas, preventing the organ from producing enough insulin. With type 2 diabetes the body can’t use the insulin that is produced effectively.
Type 2 diabetes, often referred to as a lifestyle illness, can be treated through lifestyle changes, but type 1 can only be treated with insulin injections.
The World Health Organisation reports that the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. WHO projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in 2030.
On August 1, San Diego-based ViaCyte, Inc., a privately-held, regenerative medicine company, announced that the first patients have been implanted with the PEC-Direct device. It is an islet cell (specialized pancreatic cells) replacement therapy in development for patients with type 1 diabetes who are at high risk for acute life-threatening complications.
ViaCyte has worked on turning human stem cells into pancreatic precursor cells that can mature to produce insulin and control blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. The precursor cells are contained in semi-permeable PEC-Direct device which is implanted under the skin of diabetic patients. After implantation, these cells are expected to become mature human islet tissue and to produce insulin on demand.
This therapy is being developed specifically for type 1 diabetes patients that are at a higher risk of severe hypoglycemic episodes, extreme glycemic lability and hypoglycemia unawareness all of which can be fatal.
“Patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes complications, such as hypoglycemia unawareness, are at constant risk of life-threatening low blood glucose,” said Jeremy Pettus, MD, investigator in the clinical trial and Assistant Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego. “The PEC-Direct islet cell replacement therapy is designed to help patients with the most urgent medical need.”
It’s for people like Valeria Guerrero who can never leave her house without all her supplies with her, just in case….
During the Great Depression, a 33% increase in spinach consumption was widely attributed to Popeye’s popularity and his famous conviction that spinach will make him strong enough to beat up anyone.
As it turns out, the cartoon’s link between spinach and rapidly expanding muscles had its roots in a scientific mistake: due to a misplaced decimal point in an 1870 medical journal, many people in the Thirties believed spinach held 10 times more iron than it really did.
So, if the green stuff doesn’t miraculously make you stronger, does it do any other magic?
Actually, yes: consuming spinach and kale can keep you smarter for longer, says science.
Researchers from the University of Illinois have released a study on the benefits of lutein, a substance in kale and spinach that the human body can’t manufacture.
The study, which looked at 60 adults aged 25 to 45, found that middle-aged participants with higher levels of lutein – a nutrient found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, as well as avocados and eggs – had neural responses that were more on par with younger individuals than with their peers. In other words, their brains functioned like young brains.
Lutein accumulates in brain tissue and eyes. The researchers measured lutein levels in participants’ eyes by having them look into a scope and respond to a flickering light. Then, using electrodes on the scalp, the researchers measured neural activity in the brain while the participants performed a task that tested attention.
Anne Walk, the lead author of the paper, said: “The neuro-electrical signature of older participants with higher levels of lutein looked much more like their younger counterparts than their peers with less lutein. Lutein appears to have some protective role, since the data suggest that those with more lutein were able to engage more cognitive resources to complete the task.
“We want to understand how diet impacts cognition throughout the lifespan. If lutein can protect against decline, we should encourage people to consume lutein-rich foods at a point in their lives when it has maximum benefit.”
The researchers plan to run intervention trials, to see if increased dietary consumption of lutein will increase lutein in the eye, and how closely those levels relate to changes in cognitive performance. They also intent to learn more about lutein’s influence on learning and memory.
So, this is the deal:
Eat up your spinach and kale so you can stay bright till deep in your old age – and remember to give your kids some too!
Flint Lockwood has come to town and his future forecast is “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs”.
His team is from Finland and they have made nutritious protein from thin air. The protein is in the form of a powder, but it can be modified into other textures.
Researchers working on a joint study at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have created a batch of single-cell protein by using electricity and carbon dioxide.
“In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air,” explains Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, Principal Scientist at VTT. The protein can be produced anywhere renewable energy, such as solar energy, is available.
The protein production uses renewable energy plus electricity, water, carbon dioxide, and microbes. The raw materials are exposed to electrolysis in a bioreactor, which produces a powder that consists of more than 50 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates.
Enormous benefits marred by current drawback, for now
The researchers estimate that creating food from electricity can be nearly 10 times as energy-efficient as common photosynthesis. But currently the process is hopelessly inefficient: it takes around two weeks to produce one gram of protein, using laboratory equipment that is about the size of a coffee cup. To become a viable solution for food production on a large scale, the process will have to be become more efficient. Scientists estimate this will take around ten years.
Enough food for everyone, everywhere
The technology is in its infancy, but if it can be scaled up it could mean the end of world hunger.
“In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine,” said Juha-Pekka Pitkänen.
The scientist foresees that people could have a home reactor — a type of domestic appliance — to produce their own protein as needed.
The process works independently of environmental factors, meaning that food will always be available.
“Compared to traditional agriculture, the production method currently under development does not require a location with the conditions for agriculture, such as the right temperature, humidity or a certain soil type”, Jero Ahola, a professor at LUT, said in the press release.
Double benefit for the environment
Currently the team is working on producing animal feed. This is done in a shipping container facility built on a farm using a completely automatized process. The method requires no pest-control substances. Only the required amount of fertilizer-like nutrients is used in a closed process. In this way negative environmental impacts, like pollution of water systems with runoff waste or the formation of powerful greenhouse gases, are completely avoided, according to Professor Jero Ahola.
That’s not all:
The protein created with electricity can be used to replace fodder. This means large swaths of land can be used for other purposes, like commercial forestry or simply to let nature reclaim the environment and establish natural forests once again.
Did you know that an estimated 350 million people worldwide are affected by depression? It’s now the leading cause of global mental and physical disability and plays a major role in countless suicides, including among children, teens and young adults.
The situation is actually much worse than this.
Around 50 percent of people living with this debilitating condition don’t benefit from antidepressants and around 20 percent don’t respond to any treatment.
This means that the conventional approach to addressing depression isn’t working.
But, for some, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
New research results from Imperial College London hold much promise. Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, who leads the psychedelic research arm of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, has published research suggesting a compound in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, may help treat depression.
The therapeutic potential of psychedelics for the treatment of depression is of major interest to scientists because psilocybin acts on the serotonin levels in the brain.
To understand how hallucinogenics work on the brain, Dr. Carhart-Harris explains that in a normal brain there are not so many cross connections as in a brain on psilocybin: the latter state allows for a more open, freer connections across the brain. The brain becomes untethered from incoming information and in this state it can operate in a more freewheeling way.
To test the treatment of depression with psilocybin, six men and six women with moderate to severe treatment-resistant depression participated in the study. Many of them suffered from depression for an average of 18 years with no positive results from treatment.
You may be wondering: is this safe?
Because hallucinogenics can bring about a very profound experience — pleasant as well as extremely unpleasant — these powerful substances must be treated with respect and great care. Researchers from Imperial College therefore conducted a strictly monitored feasibility study where psychiatrists were physically present with the patients throughout the process. The scientists gave test subjects two doses of psilocybin on two treatment days.
The study results show that psilocybin is safe and well-tolerated and that, when given alongside supportive therapy, helped all of the study participants to feel relief from depression for the first three weeks after the treatment.
Here’s the kicker:
More than two thirds of them were depression free and 42 percent of them stayed depression free for three months after the treatment.
One of the volunteers had this to say about the experience:
“The usual negative self-narration that I have had vanished completely. It was replaced by a sense of beautiful chaos, a landscape of unimaginable colors and beauty. I began to see that all of my concerns about daily living weren’t relevant, that they were a result of a negative spiral. I also felt that I was learning without being taught, that intuition was being fed.”
In the weeks after the treatment, the patient remarked: “I’m aware that it’s pointless to be wrapped up in so much negativity.” Six months after the treatment he was still in remission.
The researchers warn that this is not a magic cure that’s going to help everyone. Scientists have to do more research to find out how to optimize the treatment and further test its effectiveness.
Google changed the face of the Internet beyond all recognition. Now, its sister company has plans to extend its reach into the real world as well.
In an attempt to cut the rate of disease transmission, Verily is getting ready to release 20 million bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in central California.
Verily is a sister company of the tech giant Google and will be carrying out the release. It’s part of the life sciences division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It’s looking into how to decrease the overall population of mosquitoes most likely to carry dangerous diseases within California.
They’ve focused their attention on the Aedes aegypti species, which is known to be a carrier for yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.
At the moment, these diseases aren’t a threat to people living in California. However, it’s anticipated that as the climate shifts, mosquitoes will spread and carry more diseases with them as they do.
The release of 20 million mosquitoes is referred to as Debug Fresno, in reference to taking place in Fresno, California. Already 1 million of the mosquitoes have been set free and 1 million more will be released each week for the next 19 weeks.
See the video above for an overview
The mosquitoes in the trial haven’t been genetically modified. They have, however, been infected with a naturally occurring bacteria that makes some instects, such as the A. aegypti mosquito, sterile.
The trial is a form of biological control. Past tests have had mixed results, though it’s hoped that this test will infect up to 76 percent of mosquitoes in the region.
By releasing sterile males into the wild, it’s expected that there won’t be as many fertile males mating.