Scientists replace 80 percent of boy’s skin with epidermis grown in lab, saving his life

Scientists replace 80 percent of boy’s skin with epidermis grown in lab, saving his life

A 7-year-old boy with untreatable wounds on his skin has had 80 percent of his skin replaced with a genetically modified epidermis, saving his life.

The boy has grown up with a life-threatening genetic disorder that has resulted in untreatable and infected wounds all over his body. Before the surgery to replace it, the boy had lost 80 percent of his skin to the disorder.

In 2015, doctors at a children’s hospital in Germany had done their best to at least make the boy comfortable after all other attempts to save him had failed.

The Syrian boy, known only as Hassan, suffers from junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), a rare inherited skin disorder. According to IFL Science, people with the disorder suffer from genetic mutations on one of three genes, LAMC2, LAMA3 or LAMB3, which help to produce the laminin 332 protein. This is the protein that helps to attach the upper layers of skin to the deeper layers. Without it, sufferer’s skin can become blistered from just a small bump or friction.

A study was published in Nature examining this case, titled “Regeneration of the entire human epidermis using transgenic stem cells”. It explains that sufferers of JEB face devastating effects of the disease, including having trouble eating as blistering can also occur inside the body. There is no cure to the disease, and about 40 percent of children with the condition won’t survive their first year, with four in 10 patients won’t reach adolescence.

The genetically modified skin was grown in labs and took two months to be grafted onto the boy.

Figure A shows Hassan before treatment. Images C to E show his extraordinary recovery. T. Hirsch et al / Nature.

“The kid is now back to school. He plays soccer,” lead author Dr Tobias Hirsch, from the hospital, told BBC News.

“Today this treatment is not available and it is not going to be available in the next few months, but this is a massive advance in research and is going to give us hope going forward with gene therapy.”

Almost two years later, Hassan is doing well. He doesn’t need to take medicine, is doing well at his school in Germany, and his skin heals just like other healthy children.

Here are 7 things that science says predicts divorce

Here are 7 things that science says predicts divorce

While the number of marriages continue to decline, the number of divorces has been on a steady rise for the last two decades.

If you are thinking about getting married, or if you are searching for ways to improve and even save your current marriage, there are a few things that can predict the success of your marriage overall.

Here are 7 things science says can predict divorce amongst a married couple.

1) Timing is Everything

Research suggests that couples who married in their teens or their mid-thirties are more likely to get divorced. This seems reasonable given that most teenagers aren’t even who they will be in life yet, and most 30-somethings are often trying to reinvent themselves and make big career moves.

Want to improve the chances of marital success? According to science, getting married in your twenties is the best option.

A study found that after age 32, odds of divorce increase by about 5% each year. The lead researcher was stated as saying that, “for almost everyone, the late twenties seems to be the best time tie the knot”.

2) Successful Partners

Studies have shown that when one partner doesn’t hold down a full-time job, the couple is more likely to become divorced. This makes sense given that it is very hard to support two people, or more, on one income, and if one person is the “breadwinner” in the relationship, it can lead to contempt, animosity and even divorce.

Putting the pressure on one partner to hold down the fort financially is difficult and can leave the other partner feeling unneeded in the relationship.

3) Education is Key

Another study found that people who have finished high school tend to stay married longer than those who never finished high school.

In addition, people who completed post-secondary education are more likely to stay married over people who didn’t go to college. It turns out that people who are accomplished in school can also be accomplished in life and marriage.

Psychologist Eli Finkel sums up why this might be the case:

“What I think is going on is it’s really difficult to have a productive, happy marriage when your life circumstances are so stressful and when your day-to-day life involves, say three or four bus routes in order to get to your job.”

4) Keeping Things To Yourself

If you don’t talk about things that are bothering you, you’ll find yourself in divorce court faster than if you take the time to discuss your problems, concerns, worrying, and family issues. Couples who quietly loathe their partners, rather than discussing their issues, are more likely to get divorced.

According to psychologist John Gottman, these 4 behaviors tend to predict divorce:

1. Contempt: Seeing your partner as lower than you.

2. Criticism. Questioning your partner’s character by their actions.

3. Defensiveness. Constantly playing the victim in tough situations.

4. Stonewalling: Avoiding conversations.

5) Letting the Flame Die Out

While hot and heavy seems like a great way to start a marriage, it can put a lot of pressure on the rest of the relationship to stay that way.

A research study found that couples who were overly affectionate towards one another often resulted in divorce 7 years later.

Every marriage goes through periods of ups and downs in their love life, and couples who expect that things will always be like that when they got married often get divorced.

Setting expectations related to sex and intimacy early on can really put a damper on things when kids come along, jobs get in the way, or life happens in general. Couples who think the honeymoon phase will last forever are sorely mistaken.

Psychologist Aviva Patz explains it: “Couples whose marriages begin in romantic bliss are particularly divorce-prone because such intensity is too hard to maintain. Believe it or not, marriages that start out with less ‘Hollywood romance’ usually have more promising futures.”

6) Not Communicating With Each Other

Every couple has its share of arguments. Those who want to remain married put the time and effort into the overcoming arguments and disagreements.

Those who shut down and can’t communicate their feelings are less likely to succeed in marriage, according to a 2014 study

It makes sense: if you can’t talk to your spouse, who can you talk to? If you want to have a long and happy marriage, get used to talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly together.

7) Thinking Negative Things

If you talk about your spouse in a negative way, you are more likely to be destined for divorce court than people who always talk about their spouse in a positive way.

A study in 2000 found that the level of positivity or negativity one used to speak about their marriage tended to predict the strength or weakness of their marriage.

If you have trouble saying nice things about your partner, it might be best for you to part ways. If, however, you want to improve your marriage success rates, try saying something nice about your spouse first. You know the rule: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Negativity breeds negativity.

Being married is hard work. It takes a long time to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Those couples that stay married are the ones who are willing to continue to try to figure out what works instead of focusing on what doesn’t work. Couples who are willing to work on themselves and their marriage are more likely to remain together for years to come.

Study finds that people diagnosed with HIV have a longer life expectancy than non-infected people

Study finds that people diagnosed with HIV have a longer life expectancy than non-infected people

It may sound strange that a person inflicted with a deadly virus such as HIV can actually help them live longer.

Believe it or not, researchers from the North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design study found that a person diagnosed with HIV at 20 years old or older and on antiretroviral therapy (ART) can expect to live longer than the average life expectancy.

The study found that someone aged 20 or older on ART in the U.S or Canada is now expected to live into their early 70s – a life expectancy that’s approaching that of the general population. However, the study also found that if a 20-year-old is a man, and starts HIV treatment early with a CD4 count at or above 350, they can expect to live an additional 69 years, or to approximately 89 years old, 10-12 years longer than the general population.

Dr. Gary Blick, Chief Medical Officer of World Health Clinicians and co-founder of HIV Equal, says this is clear evidence of the success of newer and improved HIV drugs:

“One of the main reasons for the increase in life expectancy above that of the general population has everything to do with knowing your HIV status…If you are diagnosed with HIV and get in and stay in care, you will get better monitoring and treatment than someone in the general population who might otherwise not seek medical attention. The only sobering fact is that large differences in life expectancy still continue to persist in certain patient sub-groups, such as between MSM and intravenous drug users or other HIV risk groups, as well as between Caucasians and all other races. We need to better understand the specific reasons for these life expectancy differences and improvements”.

How can this actually be?

Doctors say it’s mainly due to the incredible pharmacological advances that have been made in how the virus is treated and managed. “Highly active antiretroviral therapy” have resulted in being able to maintain the infected person’s immune system and therefore prevent the opportunistic infections that resulted in the development of AIDS and led to death. This medication usually involves taking 1-2 tablets a day.

Another reason for the increased life expectancy is that a person infected with HIV goes to the doctor to get their blood checked every 4 months, which can mean they’re more likely to catch other diseases that they wouldn’t have caught had they not seen a doctor.

According to Dr. Pemberton, the people who became dangerously unwell with the disease “are often immigrants who have been infected for years, and present to hospital late with the kind of infections that we no longer see in those on medication.”

This underscores the importance of catching HIV early and getting on treatment as soon as possible.

According to AIDS Map, transmission mostly occurs when people don’t know they have it. When HIV infected people are on medication, they become far less likely to transmit it to others.

While we still haven’t found a cure for HIV/AIDS, we shouldn’t ignore the miraculous advancement western medicine has made in treating people with the disease.

Dr. Pembertion says it best:

“HIV/Aids wards and specialist units have closed simply because there is no longer the volume of patients to fill them. This is a hugely encouraging fact, which would have seemed impossible to those who stood, in the 1980s and 1990s, as friends, family and loved ones faded away while doctors stood by utterly helpless. What is truly startling is the speed with which medicine responded to HIV.”

This interactive map sums up the damage caused by the anti-vaccination movement

This interactive map sums up the damage caused by the anti-vaccination movement

Vaccinations are one of the most incredible inventions from modern medicine. They have eradicated lethal diseases that have previously wrecked havoc on humanity.

And yet, despite doctor’s reassurance and evidence that cites the safety and value of vaccination, many educated, dedicated parents are still wary of vaccines.

Although national immunization rate has been stable over the past decade, it’s still below the government’s goal of 80%.

In certain areas, some parents are delaying shots for their kids or skipping ones altogether, citing religious or philosophical exemptions.

As a consequence, there have been recent outbreaks of serious diseases that vaccines had virtually wiped out in the U.S, including measles, mumps, whopping cough and haemophilus influenza type b.

Disease specialists say these cases are due to what’s known as the “herd immunity”. If a community is to be fully protected against a disease, 80 to 90 percent of its population needs to be vaccinated.

Whenever coverage drops below that level, a school, a church or a neighborhood becomes susceptible. Babies who aren’t old enough to get the shot are at the most risk.

The Council of Foreign Relations have released an interactive map showing the horrible outcome of not getting vaccinated, which now published on the Vaccines Work website.

This interactive map gives a gut sinking tour of global outbreaks of measles, mumps, rubella, polio and whooping cough from 2008-2017. These diseases have fatal consequences, yet are easily prevented by vaccines.

According to statistics, 146,000 people around the world will die from measles each year, mostly children.

The US has also seen a  dramatic increase in whooping cough, which causes around 195,000 deaths per year.

The majority of these deaths occur in impoverished regions with very little access to vaccines. In the case of developed countries like US or UK, they shouldn’t be occurring at all.

The Big Fear

Why do some parents object to getting their kid vaccinated? The most common answer is: autism.

Many people believe that the increase number of vaccines -children now get twice as many as they did in 1980 and can receive up to 20 injections by their first birthday – are to blame for the rise in kids with autism spectrum disorders.

This idea became well known when Andrew Wakefield, M.D, a British gastroenterologist, published a study of 12 children in the Lancet that linked the measles, mumps and rubella combination vaccine with intestinal problems that he believed led to autism.

The vaccine-autism hypothesis was solidly in the mainstream by the time actress Jenny McCarhy went public with her belief that vaccines cause her son’s autism. This was enough to scare any Mother.

However, at least 7 large studies in major medical journals have found no association between the MMR vaccine and ASD.

Also, the Lancet officially retracted Dr. Wakefield’s original paper (as he has failed to disclose connections to lawyers involved in vaccine litigation).

Furthermore, several demographic analyses have found that autism rates continued to rise after thimerosal was removed from all vaccines, except flu shots.

So, why are there so many reports of children developing autism after getting vaccinated?

Experts believe it’s almost certainly coincidental. Children get their first dose of the MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months, the age at which autism symptoms become noticeable, says Paul Offit, M.D., director of the vaccine education center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of Autism’s False Profits: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. “It’s the same reason why there are reports of SIDS deaths after DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) immunizations,” says Dr. Offit. “Infants start the DTaP vaccine between 2 and 6 months, which is the time they’re also most likely to die from SIDS.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any risks when it comes to vaccines. However, the risks far outweigh the cons. Doctors say the odds of experiencing a vaccine-related injury are greatly outweighed by the dangers of catching a vaccine-related injury.

For example, the DTaP vaccine causes seizures or temporary shock-like state in 1 in 14,000 people, and acute encephalitis (brain swelling) in 11 in 1 million. But the diseases it prevents – diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis – are fatal in 1 in 20 cases, 1 in 10 cases and 1 in 1,500 cases, respectively.

This video of a freshly removed human brain is fascinating to watch

This video of a freshly removed human brain is fascinating to watch

Our brain is the most complex object in the universe. And with over 7.146 billion models, it is also the most ubiquitous.

However, despite using it every day, we are also unsure of how complex it really is. We still don’t really understand how it works.

The three point three pound wet mass – grey on the outside and whitish pink on the inside – controls everything that we ever do.

That’s why this below video is remarkable. For most of you, this will be the first time you see a brain in flesh, as it is removed straight from autopsy.

As neuroanatomist Suzanne Strensaas says in the video, most of us tend to think that the brain is like a rubber ball. However, if you’re a trauma surgeon or a neurosurgeon, you realize that the brain is really very, very soft and much more vulnerable than the impression you get from textbooks.

As she holds the 1.4 kg (3lbs) brain in both palms, it’s crazy to realize that that was someone’s entire set of life experiences.

As Suzanne explains, the cancer patient whose autopsy this brain is from, died from cell transplant complications. It’s truly a remarkable gift to science that this patient donated their body.

This video is also important for helping us realize how fragile our brains really are.

You can see how much care needs to be taken when handling the brain. Even though the brain is suspended in the skull and surrounded by spinal fluid to act as a cushion, it really doesn’t take a significant amount of force to cause injury. One good hit on the football field, a fall down some steps or even falling off a bicycle can be enough.

Here is the whole video. It’s also probably important to warn you that it is quite graphic (but also amazing at the same time).

8 really good things that are happening in the world right now

8 really good things that are happening in the world right now

There is so much negative news doing the rounds that it’s easy to lose sight of the many really good things happening in the world right now.

This is why we wanted to share you some of the good news amongst the madness.

Here we share a few of the great developments in medical science. Allow it to lift your spirits!

1. Doctors have reversed a 2-year-old girl’s brain damage after she drowned.

Researchers in the US have reported what they believe is a first-of-its-kind reversal of brain damage on a two-year-old girl who drowned in a pool and was resuscitated after two hours of her heart not beating on its own. Thanks to a course of oxygen treatments were able to significantly reverse the toddler’s brain damage.

2. Smallpox has been eradicated and two more diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries are going the same way.

Scientists are on the verge of wiping out the Guinea Worm parasite, mostly thanks to an ingenious and cheap drinking straw filter that stops people from being contaminated via water. As of May this year, there were only five recorded cases. So far in 2017 there have only been eight confirmed cases of polio.

3. A drug that can treat autism symptoms is close.

A small, but promising clinical trial in the US showed this year that a 100-year-old drug called suramin can measurably improve the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. There’s a lot more work to be done, but it’s the first time we’ve been so close to having a drug that can potentially treat ASD symptoms.

4. A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.

More work needs to be done to produce graphene oxide membranes inexpensively at industrial scales, but the development could eventually save millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

5. Scientists think they might be able to reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss.

An enzyme that interferes with key memory-forming processes in people with Alzheimer’s can now be specifically targeted so it can’t cause a genetic blockade, according to new research out of MIT.

6. A simple vitamin supplement could have the potential to prevent miscarriages and birth defects, according to a 12-year study by scientists in Australia.

In what scientists are calling “the most important discovery for pregnant women since folate”, a 12-year study has revealed that women could avoid miscarriages and birth defects by simply taking vitamin B3 during pregnancy.

7. Researchers are finally beginning to understand how to repair spinal cord injuries.

It is extremely complicated, but new research has shed light on how one of the most cutting edge techniques and how it works at a cellular level. By finally understanding how spinal cord injuries can heal, researchers will eventually be able to develop even more effective treatments that could potentially go as far as reversing paralysis and other nervous system damage.

8. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria already kill around 700,000 people each year.

Antibiotic resistance is regarded as a global epidemic, but scientists have found a way to reverse antibiotic resistance. At the start of this year, scientists announced the development of a molecule that reverses antibiotic resistance in multiple strains of bacteria at once, making it one of the most promising advances we’ve had to date in the fight against superbugs.

H/t: ScienceAlert.com.