Islet Cell Transplant…

Islet cells are found in the pancreas. They are composed of alpha and beta cells. The beta cells are those that make insulin and help us properly use glucose for energy. With Type 1 diabetes the beta cells no longer make insulin. There is a new experimental treatment in which healthy beta cells from a donor are transplanted to a patient with Type 1 diabetes. The hope is, in the future, a person with Type 1 diabetes will be able to make their own insulin and not rely on taking daily injections. At present transplants are available in Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. This is still in the experimental stages in the US because of concerns about its effectiveness as well as the possibility of rejection. In a recent study performed by The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disease, 43 participants who had highly unmanageable Type 1 diabetes received the transplant. One year later 43% of the participants still did not need to take insulin. The new transplanted islet cells are infused into the bloodstream where they find their new home in the liver instead of the pancreas which decreases the possibility of complications. At present the cells last 3 to 5 years and the recipient must take immune suppressing drugs just like any donor recipient. It does however open the possibility of a more carefree life for a person who must be at all times aware of their blood sugar levels. These transplants are getting more and more refined.

Cicadas and a 17-year Gestation Period…

Their sound is so much a part of an August evening. A gradual hum that breaks out into a roar. They break through the ground and head in groups for the nearest tree. The nymphs remain underground for 17 years feeding on tree roots. Their number is so great that they provide an unending meal for turtles, racoons and birds. Every year a new group emerges in some area of the US, which is the only country where they are found. Only the males are capable of their unique sound which is used to attract females. Eric Day, an entomologist, recommends frying them in sake and garlic because of their high protein content. They are not poisonous and will do no harm to humans. They are a bit clumsy and will slam into you when you least expect it. Cicadas are extremely vulnerable to predators while they are waiting for their wings to dry after they emerge, but in spite of this, billions manage to survive, mate and die off leaving their nymph eggs to settle underground for another 17 years.

Are We Getting Cooler?

In 1851 the standard for a normal body temperature was set at 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Now it seems that we are getting cooler. Researchers verified this by studying three databases. 1) 23,710 veterans of the civil war from 1862-1930. 2) 15,301 national health records from 1971-1975. 3) 150,280 Stanford University records from 2007-2017. The results were that our body temperature seems to be decreasing 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit for each decade. Although more sophisticated equipment is now being used, the consistencies were constant within each time period. Scientists suggest that improvements in sanitation as well as dental and medical care may be reducing inflammation in the body causing this drop of temperature. This along with controlled heating and air conditioning may be lowering our metabolic rate. However, the normal temperature for an individual may be closer to 97.5.

Machines That Can Taste Your Food…

Machines are now being trained to be attentive to shape, texture and sweetness. These decisions up to now have been made by experienced workers. Blueberries for example have a standard color palette and are very delicate so they can bruise easily. BBC Technologies of New Zealand has invented machinery that can separate blueberries by color and size which until now was time consuming and done by workers with nimble hands. The software takes from 2400 individual images of what a firm and proper color of a blueberry should look like. The color can also determine the sweetness which is another factor on how they are priced and packaged. Artificial intelligence can distinguish the difference from a stem hole and that which has been pecked by a bird and will soon rot. It can separate fruit that should be eaten within a week as opposed to the berries that can travel longer distances. PepsiCo is teaching machines sensory perception. Lasers are bounced off of potato chips to capture the sound of crunchiness in order to replicate someone biting into a potato chip. I wonder if the day will come when we walk into our home and see a machine sitting on our couch munching on chocolate chip cookies.