Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

In a fascinating new study our ideas of old age are challenged..

Professor Tom Kirkwood has demolished a string of misconceptions about the ageing process with a groundbreaking study into the health of more than 1,000 older people in the 85-plus generation. “Its a myth that they are bowls of misery, unhappy with their lot, and always going on about ailments,” he insists. “Four out of five of them actually think they are doing pretty well.”His study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken, has proved revealing on several fronts. For a start, people in the 85-plus range are generally much happier, and more independent, than is generally realised. Remarkably, 80% of a group carefully selected by the Kirkwood team – a fair sample of the UK population of this age – need little care. Around the same number rate their quality of life either good or excellent.On the downside, 20% need either regular daily help or critical 24-hour care. All of which might be almost manageable for the state, and for society, if this age range was static. But, as the amiable Kirkwood never tires of reminding questioners, the 85-plus group is now the fastest-growing segment of the population.

via Research dispels old myths about ageing | Society | The Guardian.

..Of course, this has huge implications for the cost of caring. Revealingly, in tracking 17 activities of daily living among survey participants – from dealing with finances to cooking and shopping – researchers found that men fared better than women; a third managed all 17 without help, compared with a sixth of women. Although women live, on average, five to six years longer than men, the study has found that their disabilities become greater with age.
Highly recommended reading.

We’ve been to the moon, we’ve mapped the continents, we’ve even been to the deepest point in the ocean — twice. What’s left for the next generation to explore? Biologist and explorer Nathan Wolfe suggests this answer: Almost everything. And we can start, he says, with the world of the unseeably small.

Armed with blood samples, high-tech tools and a small army of fieldworkers, Nathan Wolfe hopes to re-invent pandemic control — and reveal hidden secrets of the planet’s dominant lifeform: the virus.

“This house wants to defeat ageing entirely”
Dr Aubrey de Grey (proposing) and Professor Colin Blakemore (opposing)

Follow the link for the second part

A public debate organized by Oxford University Science Society, held in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on April 25th, 2012.

Highly recommended

Via Scoop.itKnowmads, Infocology of the future

Life may be the software that makes its own hardware, but where is the compiler? If we plan to start programming life itself, we are going to need a radically different and better tool kit than the one available to geneticists today. Omri lays out a concrete vision for how such a tool would work and for how it would be used to create the bio-products our future needs so badly. Omri is the founder & CEO of Genome Compiler Corp, a Synthetic Biology venture. His background is in biochemical and structural studies of membrane protein complexes involved in bio-energetics.   Solve for X is a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork. G+: Life may …

Via Scoop.itKnowmads, Infocology of the future

With a box of Lego, you can create a whole range of different structures. Snap together pieces of various colours, shapes and sizes to create a multitude of structures — a house, a boat, a tower — with different functions. In the world of biology, a growing group of scientists is thinking about parts of cells in much the same way.Engineers are using genes and proteins as building blocks to create new kinds of cell and new functions for cells. If scientists can build genes from scratch, they can create organisms with new traits. They can create bacteria that can clean up oil spills, rice with genes that keep the plant infection-free, or cells that can churn out new materials. Synthetic biology, the field that revolves around figuring out how to combine genes in new and interesting ways, requires an understanding of biology, creative engineering skills and computing expertise. It is pulling together scientists with different capabilities to solve problems.   keep on reading


Will people equipped with prosthetic technologies soon outperform “natural” abilities? How are we blurring the boundaries between human enhancement and body augmentation? How does the realm of prosthetics merge aesthetics and technology, in transforming the form and capabilities of the human body? How are artists, designers and scientists joining forces to push the boundaries of prosthetic technologies?

Professor Jamie Davies, Professor of Experimental Anatomy, presents “Synthetic Biology: the potential and the problems of re-engineering life”.