SciTech Briefs

Tests underway for fake pancreas

Scientists at Cambridge University are currently testing an artificial pancreas for children with Type 1 diabetes. The device, which consists of a glucose sensor, insulin pump, and a processor, would be partially implanted into children whose bodies are incapable of producing insulin.

The glucose sensor will continuously monitor blood sugar levels and signal the insulin pump when sugar levels become too high, replacing the normal functions of a pancreas.

Scientists are optimistic with the initial results, which have been shown to significantly improve blood glucose control, and hope to have a commercial version available in four to seven years.

Source: BBC News

Vision restored in blind mice

Research on blind mice has shown that immature light-detecting (rod) cells injected into a mouse’s retina will automatically align themselves properly in their host, helping to restore the host’s sight.

Previous studies have only been able to salvage vision that was deteriorating by providing nutrients to dying cells; this is the first study to show that the retina from a completely blind animal can be repaired and made functional.

The cells used are ones that have matured beyond the embryonic stem cell stage but have not fully developed into rod cells. The specific defect treated in the mice is similar to macular degeneration, which is one of the leading causes of blindness in humans.

Source: The Washington Post

FCC gives legal okay for BPL

The FCC has officially endorsed Broadband over Powerlines (BPL) as an information service, giving it the same legal status as conventional broadband services, such as cable and DSL.

BPL uses existing electrical power lines to deliver high-speed Internet content, but is still in its infancy and is currently only responsible for a very small share of the broadband market. This FCC ruling goes far in alleviating concerns about its future, clearing the way for growth of the industry.

Source: TechWeb

New DVD formats mean more extras

Wasting no time in the format wars between HD-DVD and Bluray, movie studios have started releasing movies in these new, high-definition formats. With six times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs, the extra space in the formats allow for more in-depth special features, including extra commentaries and interactive content such as games.

Some are skeptical, however, of the revenue-generating capability of these special features because it is unclear whether customers want or are interested in any of the additional content provided.

Source: The New York Times

Nocturnal snails ravage Barbados

Thousands of African snails are destroying the agricultural crops of Barbados. Traveling by night, the snails feed on sugar cane, bananas, and papayas.

In response to these threats, a government-led emergency response team has been spraying pesticide where the snails breed.

Source: Associated Press