Hospital Emergency Room departments are increasingly sophisticated, with machines and monitors seemingly ready to take over the functions of a failing body.
But Dr John Kheir, from Boston Children’s Hospital, realised they weren’t enough when he was treating a patient with pulmonary pneumonia. Her lungs were filling up with blood; despite being put on a ventilator she couldn’t get enough oxygen into her bloodstream. The intensive care team raced to get her onto a heart/lung bypass machine, and did so in an extremely quick 20 minutes – but that wasn’t fast enough to prevent severe brain damage. Dr. Kheir explains his unlikely sounding idea.
This invention shows what incredibly sophisticated machines our bodies are – and how technology can give them a boost. Researchers in the US have developed a way to power that technology using the same energy source as the body – glucose. That could open the door to new implantable devices that don’t need batteries to be replaced or recharged. They simply generate the energy they need from glucose fuel cells, which tap into a lifetime’s supply of energy in our bloodstreams. In the first instance Professor Rahul Sarpeshkar from MIT has developed a proof of concept with a neural implant that could help paralyzed patients move their limbs. His research is published in the journal PLoS One
Scientific inspiration often comes from unlikely sources, but not often from the nail salon, but that’s exactly where Dr. Kate Mansfield, a scientist with the US Marine Fisheries Service discovered a new way to attach tags to turtles. She and her team wanted to follow newly hatched loggerhead turtles to help conserve the endangered species.
If you’ve ever felt that the tomatoes that you get from the supermarket just don’t taste the way that they used to – some research in this week’s journal Science seems to back up your impressions. For about 70 years farmers have been choosing – or selecting for – tomatoes that start off a nice light green colour, and that ripen better on shop shelves. But it seems that also, inadvertently, meant for tomatoes with less flavour. Dr Ann Powell from UC Davis has worked out why this has happened.
(Image: Green and red tomatoes. Credit: S. Zhong and J. Giovannoni / PA Wire)