From the NFL to Neurosurgeon

This June Myron Rolle, former safety with the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers will make history. Not necessarily the kind of history one would assume -Rolle will begin his residency in neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School.

Having already obtained his master’s degree in medical anthropology from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, it is quite possible that Rolle may be the only person in the world to be a former NFL player, Rhodes Scholar, and a medical student.

“It’s not brain surgery”
Actually, in Myron Rolle’s case it is. It’s no coincidence that Rolle has chosen brain surgery to be his area of study. His love of and experience as a football player has guided him to this particular decision. Rolle intends to address many of the safety concerns that can harm players during games or practices.

It is quite possible that having this former football player off the field and in the operating room will be truly beneficial for the sport and players alike.

Here’s a video of Rolle discussing life as a former NFL player and medical student.

Tilapia Skin: How Can It Help Burn Victims

For centuries doctors in have been using animal skin for burn treatment. However, when you reside in country where there is a shortage of pig skin, human skin, and artificial alternatives, it comes as now surprise that doctors located in Ortaleza, Brazil have begun testing a new method for treating victims with second and third degree burns. They are now using the skin from a species of fish known as, Tilapia.

Due to the shortage of skin banks, burn specialist and plastic surgeon, Dr. Edmar Maciel, has begun leading the clinical trials using sterilized tilapia. Patients are normally providing silver sulfadiazine cream and giving and gauze band aid. The burn cream is effective in the sense that it stops the burn from getting infected, but it is ineffective in terms of assisting the burn with healing.

Cream + Gauze vs Tilapia

The dressing consisting gauze-and-cream dressing must be changed daily and can result in a fair amount of pain while changing.

Tilapia skin is application is simple. The fish in skin is applied and stays on.

How can this be so? Well, first let’s investigate why tilapia was chosen for the clinical trials:

  • Tilapia is in abundance in Brazil
  • Collagen protein types 1 and 3 are abundant in tilapia skin (this type of protein is good for scarring)
  • The resistance and tension in tilapia skin is much greater than in that of human skin.
  • A significant amount of moisture
  • Tilapia skin can remain on the victims with superficial burns until the scars naturally heal
  • Tilapia skin can be changed less frequently than cream + gauze for victims with deep second degree burns.
  • Tilapia can reduce healing time and the use of medication by several days.

The tilapia skin trials will continue and if the treatments continue to demonstrate success, doctors are hopeful this treatment will be introduced to the public health system.

New Study Suggests Shark Compound Could Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s

There are up to 1 million people in the United States living with Parkinson’s disease. About 60,000 people each year are diagnosed with the disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition characterized by movement problems, tremors, limb stiffness and problems with coordination and balance. It remains unclear what exactly causes Parkinson’s disease, but studies have shown that a buildup of the protein alpha-synuclein in the brain could contribute to its development. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a chemical compound found in dogfish sharks may be able to treat Parkinson’s disease.

The chemical compound is called squalamine, and it may be able to reduce the formation of toxic proteins associated with the development of Parkinson’s disease. The results of the study showed that in roundworm models of Parkinson’s disease and human neuronal cells, squalamine halted the toxicity and buildup of alpha-synuclein.

For the first step of the study, the researchers conducted several in vitro experiments to observe the way squalamine interacts with alpha-synuclein and lipid vesicles. According to previous studies, vesicles trigger the buildup of alpha-synuclein in neurons.The team found that by preventing the protein from binding to negatively charged lipid vesicles, squalamine was able to halt alpha-synuclein buildup. This is important because the negatively charged lipid vesicles are where alpha-synuclein aggregates usually form.

Then, the team applied squalamine to human neuronal cells, which had been exposed to pre-formed alpha-synuclein aggregates. They found that squalamine prevented alpha-synuclein aggregates from binding to the outer membrane of the cells, thus stopping the toxicity of the protein.

The next step of the experiment was testing squalamine on the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans. This roundworm is an ideal experimental model for human disease because according to the first whole-genome sequencing study of Caenorhabditis elegans, these roundworms share at least 40 percent of their genes with humans. This makes them a useful experimental model for human disease. The researchers in this study genetically modified the Caenorhabditis elegans in order to overexpress alpha-synuclein in their muscle cells. This would lead them to become paralyzed as they developed. However, the researchers found that when they administered squalamine to the Caenorhabditis elegans orally, the compound stopped alpha-synuclein aggregates from forming.

This study may have a big impact on the way doctors treat Parkinson’s disease in the future. The researchers believe that this study suggests that the buildup of alpha-synuclein has the potential to be prevented using squalamine. The team is currently organizing a clinical trial to test the compound in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The team notes, however, that before squalamine can be considered a possible treatment for Parkinson’s disease, a number of questions should be addressed through future research. One unanswered question is whether squalamine can target areas of the brain that are susceptible to alpha-synuclein buildup when it is taken orally. However, researchers suggest that squalamine could offer benefits through the gut. Study co-author Professor Michele Vendruscolo says that targeting alpha-synuclein in the gut may be helpful in delaying the progress of other aspects of the disease, particularly for symptoms concerning the peripheral nervous system.

It will be interesting to see what future studies find. Hopefully, squalamine will one day be able to treat Parkinson’s disease, a disease that affects so many Americans.

Celebrities Do Not Know It All: Precautions When Listening to Popular Opinion

Katie Couric influenced thousands to undergo colonoscopy exams after having a screening of her own televised in 2003. Kylie Minogue’s decision to share her breast cancer diagnosis inspired millions of Australians to make appointments for mammogram tests. Even Kim Kardashian has dabbled in health care by inadvertently suggesting Diclegis as a solution for morning sickness.

With celebrities’ sphere of authority growing by the day, it is important to keep a few things in mind before accepting medical advice from Hollywood stars.

Celebrities Have Been Wrong

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) slammed the makers of Diclegis after Kim Kardashian sang the praises of the medicine on Instagram. The FDA called the manufacturer out for allowing the reality star to share all of the benefits Diclegis without also commenting on the product’s limitations. While they may be your favorite television personalities, celebrities are no different when it comes to health care. Products that benefit them may not bring restoration to your situation.

Hollywood Stars are Not Medical Experts

It should go without saying that the majority if not all actors and actresses giving health and wellness advice do not have medical degrees. You should, therefore, take their suggestions lightly and follow-up with a medical professional.

You would never take a complete stranger’s advice about medication to combat asthma attacks without asking your primary physician a few questions about the proposed remedy first. Why, then, would you accept the suggestion of a person who you’ve only seen on television as it pertains to your health without further investigation?

Consider the Source

Celebrities who partner with reputable health agencies are more likely to deliver accurate information than those who go off their cognizance. Christy Turlington teamed up with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to spread awareness about the adverse effects of smoking a few years back. All of the information that the model gave during her public service announcement was factual and supported by medical experts.

On the other hand, Jenny McCarthy claimed that vaccinations could lead to autism in children. Health professionals later debunked such theory. It is important to look at the source behind the source when you listen to advice given by a famous person.

You should never begin a new health regimen without discussing such plan with your primary physician. Remember that celebrities are experts in show business. They will never be as knowledgeable as your doctor who has devoted a lifetime to the field of medicine.

Hologram Victory

Holograms have been a popular culture phenomenon since they started appearing in Science Fiction films. However, not even Star Wars could have predicted this – Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms touchable.

Before you get too excited, let me clarify. Japanese scientists have found a way to make holograms able to be sensed by a human hand. We will not find ourselves playing a successful game of touch football with hologram players anytime soon, but this is still a major find. These scientists have been the only ones able to successfully use lasers to simulate a feeling – other failed experiments ended up burning skin.

One scientist working on this new technology, Dr. Yoichi Ochiai from Tsukuba University,

calls the new discovery a ‘Fairy Lights’ system, which creates fast-traveling laser pulses that react to human touch. Three-dimensional images are projected, and the lasers are used in such a way that those touching it have the sensation that something is there. So, humans are able to have a three-dimensional holographic image in front of them, reach out, and feel it. The hologram’s pixels will move in response to where they are touched.

So, touchable holograms have been discovered. This is truly a scientific revelation, but does it have any practical uses?

As a matter of fact, touchable holograms, depending on how they progress, can have large implications for the medical sphere, as well as for the construction and technology industries.

People have many ideas of how such technology, when developed, can be used. I can only imagine how holograms will be used in the future in the medical field, such as by revolutionizing certain physical therapy programs, or by comforting patients. The possibilities are truly endless. I have listed some of the more popular usages of our future touchable hologram technology below.

Computer Keyboards

Haven’t we all always wanted a virtual computer keyboard that we can project onto any surface? Well, with this technology, we would have that resource. It would give us a computer keyboard to type on, no matter where we are.

Video Chatting

Have you ever been video chatting with someone and wanted to reach out and touch them? With this technology, that may just be in your future. The person you are chatting with could be made into a hologram that responds to your touch. If anything, this technology will entirely change long-distance relationships.

Construction Sites

Projecting images to simulate where things should be when building. That could bring ‘blueprints’ to a new level.

Virtual Gaming

Virtual reality games can now be filled with holograms that you can move. That in and of itself is pretty cool.

For more information on ‘Fairy Lights,’ check out this article from Tech Times.


Astronauts Wanted

When polling your average kindergarten class for their most ideal jobs, you would get three answers across the board: Cowboy, Pirate, and Astronaut. For the longest time, those three dreams were little more than fluff between young ears, waiting for the rigors of everyday life to remind them that not everyone can be a cowboy, and the qualifications for becoming a pirate require more than a little schooling. However, NASA’s recent announcement just opened a door that millions of up-and-coming astronauts would be happy to float through.

Derrick AlgerWith our space program reinvigorated by the latest development on Mars, NASA has begun the arduous process of preparing for our next, most dramatic reach into the inky black surrounding our planet. Development is underway for more than just a manned Martian exploration, though. Plans outlining a manned orbital space station, commercial space flight, and deep-space exploration are all on the table, each with their own bevy of positions to be filled.

Starting December 14th and ending sometime in February, NASA’s open application period is a welcome invitation for any of those daring enough to explore the great unknown. While the window is small and some prerequisites are surely required to fill the roll, never in the history of NASA has there been an open call for astronauts.

From being barely used to branching out tremendously, NASA is working on multiple projects that would elevate our space program to the cultural height it was during the first moon landing. Everyone remembers the first time feet landed on the moon and those immortal words echoed into the airless atmosphere, but will we soon see the first to step foot on Mars? Maybe this new class of NASA hopefuls will contain the first woman or man to make our next leap into the future. For more information, click here.


Print Your Palate

When was the last time you’ve watched Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? The bright colors and wacky mechanisms churning out delectable insanity in all manner of sizes and shapes. Well, an enterprising German candy maker is taking serious inspiration from this zany source material, and turning the world of sweets on its head.

When looking for this innovative world of candy, you needn’t follow a trail of small orange men. A small German company, Katjes is one of the first to produce food from 3D printers. Nervous foodies have yet to climb on board with the modern trend of printing your food, finding it difficult to believe that anything worthwhile can come from a cartridge, but Katjes feels like they have a solution.

Who in their right mind turns down candy? Sweet, delicious, and fun for all ages, candy seemed to be the best way to bring curious consumers over to Katjes’ side. Customers can choose from any assortment of flavors and patterns to have their foods designed in. Fruit gummies can come in any shape or size, from letter to animal.

Blending chemistry and magic, Katjes encourages onlookers to press their faces to the Derek Algerglass and watch their treats being made. Eager children come for miles to watch their chosen treats come to life before their eyes. Layer after layer of fruit-flavored confection is placed on top of each other from automated nozzles, and line by line, the pattern comes to life.

Snover, the owner of Katjes, has been in the candy business for years. Hand making their products using the classic candy methods of old, the inclusion of this 3D printer is an attempt to not only modernize their culinary game, but Snover hopes that by getting more people on board with this method of food preparation it’ll be brought into the mainstream. Though only available in Berlin at the moment, Katjes hopes to spread their delicious message across the world using the brilliant emergent technology of 3D printing.


Strange Science

The act of creation is what drives a scientist. A simple thought, an idea snatched from the mental ether and forced into reality is how the light bulb, telephone, and automobile were introduced into our world. The ingenuity of these intrepid adventurers shape the face of our society, but what happens to their duds? We are very aware of the great successes that have propelled our society forward, but how many strange inventions were meant to be forgotten by the ever-thundering march of time?

Phone of The Dead: A brainchild of Thomas Edison and certainly one of his strangest offerings to date. A mind from which brilliant ideas were brought into this world, Edison’s “Spirit Phone” is rarely numbered among them. This early invention predates the Graham Bell’s telephone, though it’s intended audience surely would have been late.

The Rat Pack: Oddly enough, a study was held regarding rats and their preference of music. In 2011, a study conducted at Albany Medical College to see which types of tunes the tiny rodents would prefer to listen too. Oddly enough, when given the option, rats prefer no music to anything. If forced to listen to music, rats prefer Beethoven. The study takes a strange turn, though, when the rats are given cocaine. Apparently their musical tastes shift to Jazz and Miles Davis when given the drug, but only while under the influence.

Hanging Around: Nicolae Minovici is one of the chosen few scientists willing to put themselves at risk for science. The first to volunteer for his own experiment, Nicolae, the preeminent forensic scientist of the time, wanted to learn more about a particular process of capital punishment. Fascinated by hanging, Nicolae built a system of pulleys to test various knots, rope elasticity, and neck strength. Curiously enough, Nicolae died several years later due to neck-related trauma.

Beautiful and strange, if science has taught us anything, it’s that you can only expect the unexpected. Who knows what mad geniuses are cooking up right now in labs around the world. Powerful computers strongDerrick Alger enough to be worn like sunglasses and hoverboards make up our reality, where just thirty years prior it was fiction.

Medical Code Mania

The world of medicine is as wild and varied as the world it’s meant to treat. With hospitals needing to be prepared for any eventuality, certain codes had to be developed for the little incidents in life that occur, no matter how strange. Here is a brief look at some actual medical codes that, for one reason or another, exist because some poor person exhibited a need for treatment.

So you’re out on the lake, enjoying the sun and water with your family. The day has been perfect, and would have remained as such if those flaming skis hadn’t struck you out of the blue. When you’re finally able to reach a hospital after your stressful and somewhat insane ordeal, you’ll heart your friendly doctor call for a V91.07XA.

Have you recently returned from an Outer Space-journey and are suffering the ills of your former weightlessness? Luckily, a quick call for an X52 over the intercom will keep everyone in the loop. Whether you’re being attacked by squirrels, sucked into a jet engine or crushed by a vending machine, there is medical code to suit your problem. The real question is why? What’s changed to allow so many crazy codes into our medical system?

Derek ALgerThe update to our medical codes comes as a result of recent changes to the U.S. healthcare system. Though the patient should be left largely unaffected; hospitals, insurance companies, and nursing homes have all needed to modernize their coding procedures to evolve with the system. In order to get paid, medical providers must present an accurate depiction of what the patient experienced. Because of this change, 14,000 medical codes ballooned to an unprecedented 68,000.

With hopes of reducing fraud, improving the health care system and accurately documenting patient procedures, this plan has some very clear benefits. While there are several who would claim this insane level of accuracy is more of a hindrance than a helping hand, the man who was recently attacked by squirrels will surely be thankful for the specific attention.

Human Science

Knowledge is power. The proliferation of the internet has shown that people naturally want to educate themselves in subjects they care about. Never before has so much knowledge been this readily available before. As the phenomenon known as crowdsourced knowledge continue to grow, aided by Wikipedia and its complex network of contributors, another form of science was born. Dubbed “citizen science,” this new type of learning emerged from the data maelstrom of the internet with one goal: to teach as many as possible through shared experiences.

Like tapping into a mental collective, citizen science asks only that its practitioners observe and document the world around them. By taking in nature, culture, experience and information, you add a perspective to a vast ocean of input. Millions of ideas coalesce to form a comprehensive view of our world, filtered through the perception of hundreds.

Organizations across the globe have begun utilizing citizen science as a means to gather data. The U.S. Geological Survey reached out to hundreds of bird watchers, nature aficionados, and observant citizens to document their local findings. Whether measuring the blooming cycles of flowers or migratory patterns of our nation’s birds, the undeniable advantage of utilizing one of the most abundant resources on the planet, humans, is as brilliant as it is time-saving.

Other industries of repute have joined the citizen science mission alongside the U.S.G.S. NASA, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission), and the National Archives have begun using the public to better catalog data. In a country where there are 6 million registered scientists compared to a staggering 300 million “citizen scientists,” it’s shocking to think of not using such an abundant resource.

Derek ALgerHowever, citizen science is not without its difficulties. The process of scientific discovery is free from bias, belief or manipulation. If you expand the realm of contributors to one piece of data, you naturally increase the opportunity for “incorrect” observations to be made. The managing of citizen science has become a science unto itself. A necessary process when thousands of perspectives are colliding. Can so many varying opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives remove the bias in research by making one scientist into many, or can too much data dilute the information?