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Botox helps stroke, dystonia patients

Botulinum toxin, better known as Botox, has many different medical uses aside from making fine lines and wrinkles disappear. It helps dystonia victims, who have uncontrolled or slow movements, regain control of their muscle spasms. It also helps children who have clubfoot avoid surgery.

Although Botox is not approved by the FDA as a treatment for stroke patients, it is used off the label as a stroke medication. While primary care doctors often don’t know about its potential benefits, patients who have had Botox treatment often look and feel better and find it easier to dress, hold objects, and bathe themselves.

Source: The New York Times

Scientists use skin to make stem-cells

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin released a study last Thursday showing how they were able to change skin cells into “induced pluripotent” cells by adding growth genes that disappear after the new cells reproduce. Since the growth genes disappear soon after cell division, the cells no longer contain the cancer-causing genes that were discovered in previous experiments.

These induced pluripotent cells have the ability to turn into all types of tissues, which gives researchers hope that they could one day be used to replace organs. Since these cells are not harvested by destroying embryos, they lack the controversy surrounding the human embryonic stem cells.

Source: USA Today

Biochemists make new protein

A team of biochemists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine used design and engineering principles learned from nature to build a new type of protein completely from scratch. This is a great accomplishment as it assists scientists in studying the structure and function of proteins that are otherwise very complex to study.

The newly created protein is an unusually small and simple protein that is similar to the human neuroglobin that transports oxygen in the peripheral nervous system and the brain. It is believed that this new approach of creating a protein from scratch could help in making artificial blood for use by emergency-care professionals or on the battlefield.

Source: ScienceDaily

Scientists link hot tea to throat cancer

It has been known that tobacco and alcohol lead to cancer, but a recent study by Iranian researchers showed that very hot tea can also lead to throat cancer. The researchers say that any steaming beverages should be allowed to cool down before consumption.
The study showed that those who drank hot tea at a temperature greater than 158˚F were eight times more likely to procure throat cancer than those who sipped lukewarm or warm tea at a temperature less than 149˚F.

The discovery was a result of studies conducted regarding the tea-drinking habits of 300 people with esophageal cancer and another 571 healthy men and women from the area around Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Source: Reuters